CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Local officials here on Monday presented various approaches that could help address the perennial flooding in the province.
In a briefing with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the capitol here, officials of government line agencies and local executives discussed short to long solutions that could help solve the massive flooding which was recently experienced in the province.
The meeting was held in light of the massive destruction of crops and infrastructures as well as the effect on thousands of residents from the floods caused by Typhoons Egay and Falcon and the enhanced southwest monsoon.
As a short-term solution to the problem, immediate dredging of the Pampanga River was agreed upon, to be supervised by Gov. Dennis Pineda.
Pineda vowed to immediately work on the dredging project that will be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The governor, however, suggested purchasing new dredgers to save on costs and to fast-track the project.
“Nagpapasalamat po ko sa ating Pangulo dahil tinutulungan nya tayo na gumawa ng solusyon sa pagbaha at tumulong sa mga binaha nating mga kababayan (I am thankful to the President because he is helping us to make solution against flooding and for helping our province-mates who have been affected by floods),” Pineda said.
As a medium-term solution, legislators in the province suggested the upgrading of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in the portion of Tulaoc, San Simon town to prevent flood waters that had caused four to five hours traffic in the area.
On the other hand, the NLEX management initiated an elevation program in the area and vowed to finish it within three months.
Meanwhile, as a long-term solution, a 200-hectare water impounding facility was proposed to be established within the Candaba swamp and another one in the San Antonio swamp in Nueva Ecija.
Former DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said that portions of the Candaba swamp can serve as an impounding facility as it encompasses about 32,000 hectares made of freshwater ponds, swamps and marshes surrounded by seasonally flooded grasslands.
The entire area becomes submerged during the wet season and it dries out during the months of November to April where the swamp is converted to farmland by the residents.
Fourth District Rep. Anna York Bondoc-Sagum initially expressed opposition to the suggestion, citing the effect on food security and livelihood of the farmers.
However, Singson said that only 10 percent of the wetland area would be used in case the impounding facility project pushed through.
Likewise, the President assured that the national government will look into the welfare of the farmers.
Local officials thanked him for his concern in addressing the flooding problem.
“Tayo po ay nagpapasalamat sa ating Pangulo sa kanyang pagmamalasakit sa ating mga Kapampangan (We are thankful to our President for his concern to our Kapampangans),” Masantol town Mayor Jose Antonio Bustos III said.
Bacolor town Mayor Eduardo Diman Datu said “nagpapasalamat tayo sa ating Pangulo sa pagbibigay ng oras upang talakayin at tugunan ang isyu ng pagbaha (We would like to thank the President for giving time to discuss and response to the flooding issue).
Meanwhile, Pineda thanked the President for the prompt assistance to flood victims in the province, which was placed under a state of calamity on July 31.
The President handed checks worth PHP15 million to Pineda and PHP37 million to local government units.
“Pinasasalamatan po natin si Pangulong Marcos sa agarang tulong na ibinigay niya sa mga pamilya na binaha. Sa kabuuan po ay umabot ito sa PHP64.8 milyon ngayong Lunes (We are thankful to President Marcos for the immediate help given to the families affected by floods. In total, it already reached to PHP64.8 million this Monday),” Pineda said.
Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque extended his appreciation to the President for the financial assistance to his town.
“Una po sa lahat, nais ko pong ipaabot ang pagpapasalamat sa ating Pangulong Ferdinand E. Marcos Jr. sa kanyang ipinagkaloob na financial assistance para sa ating bayan (First of all, I would like to extend our thanks to our President Ferdinand E. Marcos Jr. for the financial assistance given to our town),” Maglanque said.
Floridablanca Mayor Michael Lugtu Galang said "tinanggap natin ang tseke na nagkakahalaga ng isang milyon bilang suporta ng Pangulo sa ating lokal na pamahalaan. Kami ang lubos na nagpapasalamat (we received a check amounting to PHP1 million as a support of the President to our local government. We are very thankful)."
Roger San Juan, one of the 500 beneficiaries of the Department of Labor and Employment's Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers program, said the PHP4,600 he received from the President is a big help for his family.
The President personally handed some PHP12.8-million worth of assistance to 1,600 flood victims who gathered at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center here.
A total of 100 farmers also received PHP5,000 each from the Department of Agriculture through its Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program.
"Andito po ang pamahalaan ninyo at laging handa na tumulong sa lahat ng nangangailangan (Your government is here and always ready to help in all your needs)," the President assured his audience.
During the meeting, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian reported that the agency has released 71,000 food packs in the province. (PNA)