CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda on Tuesday appealed for immediate help from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as the heavily silted Pampanga Bay continued to cause the worst flood in the province in decades.
Pineda said the DPWH should prioritize the removal of Pampanga Bay’s silt at Macabebe and Masantol, two of the heavily flooded towns in Pampanga.
Pineda disclosed that several rivers, including those in Aurora and Nueva Ejica provinces, in Luzon dump their waters at the Pampanga River that drains into Manila Bay.
“The high volume of water which is supposed to come out at the Pampanga Bay flows back to our towns as the bay is heavily silted. It looks like it [flood] will stay for weeks and even months in other areas,” said Pineda in the dialect.
Pineda said that based on the report of the Pampanga River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning System of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), “there are 15 rivers along the Pampanga River basin that greatly contribute to the massive flooding on the low-lying areas in Pampanga and Bulacan.”
Masantol Mayor Peter Flores disclosed that the total 26 barangays in the town remained flooded.
He described the floods in Macabebe and Masantol “as the worst in four decades.”
“I haven’t seen a worst flood like this one in Masantol in my entire lifetime,” said Flores, quoting a 70-year-old resident.
Pineda said the DPWH and its regional office should “stop all other infrastructure projects in Pampanga and concentrate on the desilting of the clogged portion of the bay.”
“We must save lives, properties and the progressive business industry not just in Pampanga but nearby Bulacan,” said Pineda, who has been leading the distribution of relief goods in Masantol, Macabebe, Apalit, Candaba, San Simon, San Luis, Arayat, Apalit and Santo Tomas. These are the worst-hit towns in the province.
Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. President Jim Jimenez agreed with Pineda that the DPWH should move immediately.
“But the governor could only do as much. It’s the national government that should really act fast and fund the multimillion projects to save Pampanga from floods,” said Jimenez.
He also urged President Aquino, who has yet to visit flooded areas in Central Luzon, “to explore and tap experts” for the permanent solution to the perennial flood problem in Pampanga and nearby provinces.
Pineda said that she will ask the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) to give her authority to allow private companies to desilt the downstream portion of the Gugu, Porac Gumain and Abacan rivers.
“They will not be asked to pay fees for the filing materials because what’s important is that river channels will be cleared to complement the desilting of the Pampanga Bay,” said Pineda.
She will convene a summit with national government offices such as the DPWH, Department of Agriculture, DOST and the Climate Change Commission to help farmers in Pampanga “properly address the effects of climate change on their production.”
Pineda said at least 18,000 farmers and their some 29,000 hectares farmland had been affected by flood.
She also cited the study of the National Water Resource Board that the lack of trees, the degradation of water shed, increased in sediment load, damage caused by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and overuse of ground water that loosens soil contribute to flooding.
Pineda said the P10-million study sponsored by business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan “is timely” since it proposed the use of water coming from rain and in river channels and creeks for the supply of potable water.
At least 100,000 families, or 450,000 residents, have been affected by floods spawned by Typhoons Pedring and Quiel.
Most of the affected residents are the 35,000 families living along the Pampanga River.
At least five people have been killed by the flood in Pampanga.
October 05, 2011