Philippines: Floods and Landslides show Manila at development limit
The Philippine Government is swamped with flood and disaster related concerns - such is what one finds on the Gov't Presidential News Desk. Directives all seem to focused on the most pressing problem and indeed one of the worst natural disasters of recent memory exceeded only by the 1990 Mt. Pinatubo disaster and subsequent year's lahar related problems that plagued the country in up to 1993. Entering a third week of relief operations and concerns over the extent of the problem one can see that the short term problems are by either government and private sector as well as the NGO's also international relief organizations and governments slowly making headway in a crisis that perhaps might see renewed post disaster mini construction and livelihood project gains in the midterm to rehabilitate affected areas.
 ... " President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced today the creation a Special National Public-Private Reconstruction Commission to study the causes of the weather abnormalities, what actions to take to prepare the country, and the cost such actions will entail. The President made the announcement at the West Central Elementary School here, where the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC)-Cabinet meeting was being held to assess the damage wrought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. '' I signed the executive order the other day,'' she said, adding, however, that Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has yet to issue it. According to the President, there is need for such a special commission because of the increasing severity of typhoons and the magnitude of the devastation. The commission will also undertake the rehabilitation program and raise the necessary funds for the purpose. Thus, one of its responsibilities is to work closely with the United Nations, the World Bank, and donor countries. For that reason, somebody from the business community will head the commission. The President, however, did not name who that might be, if indeed she already had someone in mind. Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and a religious leader will act as co-chairs, while certain other members of the Cabinet, representatives from business groups, non-government organizations here and abroad making up the board of directors. The President said she issued the executive order because of the magnitude of the impact of the recent calamities that hit the country in the midst of the global financial crunch that also affected fiscal capacity. The Commission was tasked to undertake a study on the causes, costs and actions to be taken in the wake of the three typhoons that wrecked great damage to the country. It will also undertake the rehabilitation plan for wrecked infrastructure and other priorities; prioritize programs as well as oversee implementation of these programs. The special commission that will be headed by a business leader, will also raise funds, especially grants, to fund reconstruction. It will also serve as a clearing house for international assistance implemented by donors themselves using the cluster approach. Furthermore, the Commission was also tasked to request the United Nations and the World Bank to coordinate an international pledging session. The Commission will have Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and a church leader as co-chairs with all department heads and business groups, representatives of Philippine and international non-government organizations as members....  OPS Press Release Oct 14, 2009
The scale of the disaster across Luzon must not just be seen as the 'normal' flooding of a rainy season, this tragic event is something that unless you've really traveled about and gone beyond the normal scenes of those shown on television has a extent that may well be a new benchmark in terms of 'How bad it all is." There are communities still flooded from the first storm that have yet to fully recover. Overall months may be the timeframe - early January before things return to normal in many areas. Metro Master Plan review ordered: Listening to a reporter last night on GMA7 doing a story on the importance of master planning, brought to mind Jun Palafox, last time I met him was at a event for the ABS-CBN FOUNDATION, its 20th Anniversary I attended a couple of months back. In retrospect, the plan is not something one always follows; but the adsence of a plan often ends in disaster. One can clearly see where thing have gone wrong in the overall pictures of drainage, sewage, and preventive programs to clear areas that hampered the water flow around the capitol during the storm. Pumps and systems are in a plan that was designed in the post war era when all of what is now metro Manila had a total population of perhaps including surrounding areas three million people. Now that number is tripled perhaps even qaudrupled when one factors in the greater Manila area which now almost seamlessly stretches to nearly Batangas in the south and Laguna. As well as Pampamga to the north. I think at some point Cavite and Bulacan just merge into the capitol one might never notice being there as much as Rizal province has to the east. the megalopolis of Metro Manila is as large in terms of population as Los Angele's is and throw in Oranga county and the valley to boot and maybe you'll get the true picture. Below is press release again of the Palace on the President tasking her cabinet to deal with the plans and warning of Eng. Palafox and his group that largely predicted the disaster we saw. If anyone can say - I told you so! It is Jun....
 ... Dagupan City -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered today her Cabinet to look into a 1977 study on flooding in Metro Manila by urban planner Architect Jun Palafox and find out if there’s something in it the government can adapt. “Let’s look at it again. It was a masterplan for NCR during the Marcos administration but it was never implemented. Let’s see what we can do about it,” the President said during the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC)-Cabinet meeting here this morning. Thirty-two years ago, Palafox warned that relaxing control of urban development would have adverse consequences. The devastation wrought by typhoon “Ondoy” last Sept.26 proved him right. In that study, Palafox singles out Marikina Valley as unsuitable for development. Indeed, the city of Marikina was among those that sustained the most damage. The Palafox report submitted in July 1977 to then Public Works and Highways Minister Alfredo Juinio states that “development should be restricted by the application of controls in three major areas---the Marikina Valley, the western shores of Laguna de Bay, and the Manila Bay coastal areas to the north of Manila.” The World Bank-funded land-use plan was finalized by Hong Kong-based consulting firm, Freeman Fox and Associates. The report recommends that the government monitor the Marikina River bank and make sure water does not reach 90 meters in height. It also provides no structure should have been allowed within nine meters from the river bank. The three-volume report also notes that “urban development is spreading into [these] areas which are, in their present state, unsuitable for development—either because they are low-lying and liable to flooding, or because development is without adequate facilities for the treatment and disposal of sewage [the norm in Manila] and so will continue to contribute to the severe pollution of areas, such as Laguna de Bay.” The study adds: “The unsuitable areas for development, where pressures are nevertheless considerable, are primarily the flat coastal areas to the north where extensive areas are liable to flooding and where increased pressures for reclamation are likely to further exacerbate this problem.” also noted in this is that, “Marikina Valley to the east, where the land is liable to flooding and where development with inadequate provision for the treatment and disposal of sewage is contributing to the severe pollution of Laguna de Bay and where flooding is a problem in the adjacent areas. “The western shores of Laguna de Bay, where development without adequate facilities for the treatment and disposal of sewage is contributing to the severe pollution of Laguna de Bay and where flooding, is a problem in the adjacent areas.” adding, “In order to avoid development contributing to longer-term flooding and water pollution, it is necessary that the short-term development is restricted in these areas. Only when remedial measures to deal with the problems have been implemented, should the development of these areas proceed on a significant scale,” the report says ...
The Pasig and other rivers clean up projects needs to be implimented, those squaters and informal settlers abused often by local officails who allow them to continue to live in harms way need to be moved. Perhaps the most revolting development I saw in all this was seeing local barangay and city councilors in riverside metro areas giving out contribution materials to settlers to rebuild homes right along the same drainage paths that they blocked. All complete with banners and signs to remind them 2010 was right around the corner. There is something the palace can do - and make good on in its remaining time in office. Cleanup and clear-up the riverbanks resettlement of these people should be the key issues since they were among the most numbers lost in lives and allowing them to rebuild will only renew the cycle of death and drowning and disease those living there suffer from. It can happen, but it needs to begin by developing other places in Luzon for people to live because as this last storm has shown the metro has reached its limits a long time ago and metropolis carrying capacity is overloaded. It is time to develop new areas or in couple of years perhaps the extent of the disaster will be 100 times as worse.
Tags: Philippine Floods , Metro Manila , Masterplan Needed , President Arroyo , Jun Palafox
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