HomeCommentaryFloods worsen as corruption widens

Floods worsen as corruption widens

The government outlaid P836 billion for flood control, 2017-2023. Deluges only worsened in those seven years. Filipinos lost lives, jobs, homes, farms, shops, schooling, and belongings.

Dishonesty and ineptness taint flood control. In 2019 House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya accused then-budget secretary Ben Diokno of inserting P332 billion for such purpose in three years. Of that, P385 million went to a Bicol town that, state engineers said never floods.

The town mayor is the stepfather of Diokno’s son-in-law. The mayor is a public works contractor; the son-in-law is a former stockholder. Diokno denied knowing the mayor.

In 2020 flood control projects reached P90 billion; in 2021, P102 billion; in 2022, P129 billion; in 2023, P183 billion.

Flood controls are political dynasties’ favorite pork barrel. Lawmakers and local kinsmen divvy up the money via three scams:

• Fake river/lake dredging. Dredgers run only when DPWH officials come to inspect, ex-senator Panfilo Lacson noted.

• Flimsy floodwalls – most overflowed during recent Typhoons Egay and Falcon in Luzon precisely due to no desilting, Public Works Sec. Manuel Bonoan reported.

- Newsletter -

• Paltry sewers – politicos allow subdivision and irrigation paving without drainage. Ripe palay rot in inundated fields, Bonoan said. Dynasts extract 42-percent kickback, Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong bared. They also act as constructors/suppliers, for 15-percent markup.

They defy the 1989 Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Act. The 34-year-old law requires impounding of rainwater in all barangays’ lowest portions for use during dry spells. Flood controls are only for re-election showcase. Unmaintained, water pumps conk out when most needed.

In one island town, the mayor abets destructive mining of nickel, chromite, cobalt, and iron. Her husband constructed the mining firm’s causeway to the port. Mining execs lodge, wine and dine at the mayor’s seaside hotel.

In Cavite, another mayor let a food factory fence off a creek. Motorists blame storm floods on the South Luzon Expressway, not the real wrongdoers.

In Bulacan, for three months officials chided dam managers for insufficient farmland water. The other week they attributed floods to dam releases. They also blamed the “reclamation” of the New Manila International Airport.

Wrong. NMIA is an island separated from the Bulacan mainland by five rivers: Maycapiz, Babangad, Bamban Creek, Malad, and Meycauayan. San Miguel Corp. isn’t reclaiming but restoring foreshores submerged by subsidence and rising Manila Bay levels. River unclogging by Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, The Netherlands’ largest dredger, benefits Bulacan’s flood-prone basins.

Officials aggravated Bulacan floods. They opposed 17 years ago the basins’ drain out to Manila Bay under a Japanese masterplan. Then, they permitted fish pens that choked waterways.

In Pampanga, North Luzon Expressway traffic snarled for hours due to a mere 12-meter narrow flood stream in San Simon. Officials squabbled over a proposed 200-hectare damming of Candaba swamp. Some also blamed NMIA even if the Lower Pampanga River empties 22 kilometers farther north.

Helicoptering over the swamp, SMC chairman Ramon Ang sighted the culprit. Garbage had stuck up beneath San Simon’s Tulaoc Bridge half a kilometer downstream. A DPWH contractor had left undemolished a cement dredger platform. Ang offered to remove the obstruction himself.

Speaking of which, SMC voluntarily cleaned Metro Manila’s Tullahan, San Juan, and Pasig Rivers. Removed were millions of tons of silt, sludge, and solid waste. Cost: P1 billion a year for three years now. Eleven cities benefited: Quezon City, Caloocan, Valenzuela, Malabon, Navotas, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pateros, Taguig, and Manila.

Of government flood controls in 253 congressional districts, 82 provinces, and 149 cities, only a few work. One is Marikina City, where the river was deepened and widened, and tributaries unclogged. Not thin floodwalls but levees were constructed along the banks. Debris was compacted, reinforced with steel, then concreted into a promenade.

Superstorm Ondoy in 2009 and Typhoon Ulysses in 2020 submerged Provident Village rooftops. Dozens perished. But recent heavy rains and two typhoons passed unnoticed, congratulations to Mayor Marcy Teodoro and Reps. Marjorie Teodoro and Stella Quimbo.

But peril remains. Rizal provincial/municipal officials abet encroachers at mountaintop Marikina Watershed. A dozen picnic resorts divert brooks onto swimming pools. Charcoal makers fell trees. A Malacañang-tagged “police narco-general” keeps a mansion-fortress.

Goons maul and drive away Masungi Georeserve park rangers who reforest the slopes against floods. Environment officials forsake Masungi Foundation which predecessors assigned as wildlife protector. Nearby, 15 quarriers led by an ex-DENR chief crush hillside for gravel.

Pleas of leaders below fall on deaf ears. Cascades threaten Marikina, Rodriguez, San Mateo, Antipolo, Cainta, Pasig, San Juan, Quezon City.

Malacañang budgets P216-billion flood control for 2024. That’ll bring the total to P1.052 trillion in eight years.

Congress will grab the pork. In return, like in 2023, it’ll grant the President P4.56-billion no-audit confidential/intelligence fund. Plus P50-million CIF to the Dept. of Agriculture.

The VP will again get P500-million CIF. Plus P150 million to the Dept. of Education. Even the environment secretary has CIF: P14 million.

Jarius Bondoc is an award-winning Filipino journalist and author based in Manila. He writes opinion pieces for The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon and hosts a radio program on DWIZ 882 every Saturday. Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LICAS News.

© Copyright LiCAS.news. All rights reserved. Republication of this article without express permission from LiCAS.news is strictly prohibited. For republication rights, please contact us at: [email protected]

Support LiCAS.news

We work tirelessly each day to tell the stories of those living on the fringe of society in Asia and how the Church in all its forms - be it lay, religious or priests - carries out its mission to support those in need, the neglected and the voiceless.
We need your help to continue our work each day. Make a difference and donate today.