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Sofa in the drainage

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Originally published in Night Owl: A Nationbuilder's Manual

Out of the 171 countries assessed in the 2016 World Risk Report, the Philippines ranked third most exposed to natural hazards. According to PAGASA, the Philippines is visited by at least 20 tropical cyclones every year. Last August 2018, heavy rains brought about by tropical storm Karding led to the evacuation of at least 50,000 individuals after Marikina River’s water level peaked at 20.6 meters (as compared to 23 meters during Ondoy). During the clean-up operations that followed, I was surprised to see all sorts of garbage, from sofa to refrigerators, inside our drainage canals — sediments that impede the natural flow of water.

Iloilo Esplanade

In the World Bank’s flood risk assessment study for the entire Metro Manila and Surrounding Basin Area, flooding was mainly attributed to three factors: (1) the huge volume of water discharge coming from the headwaters in the Sierra Madre mountains flowing downstream, (2) drainage capacity constraints in core area of Metro Manila, and (3) a heavily silted Laguna Lake.

The masterplan composed of 11 structural mitigation measures with an estimated cost of around P351 billion proposes to reduce the peak discharge of inflow equivalent to 3,600 m/s under a 100-year return period by about 75 percent by building a dam in the upstream portion of Upper Marikina River and constructing flood control structures along the priority critical sections of Pasig Marikina River.

In May 2018, DPWH completed Phase III of the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (PMRCIP), which spans from the Lower Marikina River Improvement (Napindan Channel to the downstream of Manggahan Floodway) to Delpan Bridge. Revetments, parapet walls, dike embankment, sluice structures, and bridge foundation protection were constructed and installed along priority critical sections of the Pasig-Marinina River.

The civil works for Phase IV are currently ongoing and address the downstream of Mangahan Floodway to Marikina Bridge. This would also include the construction of the Marikina Control Gate Structure and will further decrease flood inundation by 7.5 percent.

Apart from this, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar has adopted the Integrated Water Resources Management Program, which will complete and update the flood control and drainage master plans and feasibility studies of 18 major river basins (drainage area of more than 1,400 square kilometers), 421 principal river basins, and other critical river basins.

Phase 1 of the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, which involves the modernization of drainage areas, reduction of solid waste in waterways, and participatory housing and resettlement, among others, has also started.

Cagayan River Flood Control

The Flood Risk Management Project for Cagayan, Tagoloan, and Imus Rivers, which expects to address the serious bank erosion in Cagayan, construct river dikes and drainage channel along Tagoloan River, and build two off-site retarding basins along Imus and Bacoor Rivers, have been completed.

The Flood Risk Management Project in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) River is now protecting 290 hectares and about 18,000 structures in Cagayan de Oro. Based on a 25-year flood return period, the number of people affected by flooding in the area will also be reduced from about 281,000 to only 31,000.

Since its completion in 2020, the Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Measures in the Low-Lying Areas of Pampanga Bay reduces flood depth from 1.4-2.9 meters to 0.6-1.4 meters and will shorten flood duration from 66 days to 17 days.

Other projects include the Cavite Industrial Area Flood Management Project, which mitigate the flood damage caused by the overflow of the San Juan River and the poor drainage system of the Maalimango Creek, and the Leyte Tide Embankment Project, a 31.28-kilometer flood control project, which will protect 27.30 square kilometers of coastal communities and 30,800 houses/buildings from the destructive effects of storm surges.

Flood Risk Management Project for Tagoloan River
Connecting Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao via land travel

When I was still in elementary, my father, Manuel Lamentillo, would tell me about the San Juanico Bridge, a 2.16-kilometer bridge connecting the island provinces of Samar and Leyte. Whenever we would go home to Iloilo, I’d often wonder why we had to take boats or airplanes to travel to Negros Occidental. There were not many bridges at that time. The Candaba viaduct, a five-kilometer bridge connecting the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan, is the longest bridge in the Philippines and it was built in 1976, over four decades ago.

This will no longer be the case with the Duterte Administration’s Mega Bridge Project, a series of short and long-span bridges linking island provinces to eventually connect Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao via land travel.

According to Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, the first project under the masterplan — the Panguil Bay Bridge, a 3.7-kilometer bridge connecting Tangub City in Misamis Occidental and Tubod in Lanao del Norte — will start construction within the year. Once completed in 2021, travel time between Tangub and Tubod will be reduced from 2.5 hours to only 10 minutes. It will also shorten travel time between Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental and Mukas, Kolambugan in Lanao Del Norte from 2.5 hours (using RORO operations) to only 20 minutes.

The Detailed Engineering Design of the Guicam Bridge in Zamboanga Sibugay, and three bridges in Tawi-Tawi — Nalil-Sikkiat Bridge, Tongsinah-Paniongan Bridge, and Malassa- Lupa Pula Bridge — are also included in the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project (IGCMRSP). Civil works have already started.

The preparation of the Feasibility Study and Detailed Design of these game changing high-impact projects, such as the 22-kilometer Bohol-Leyte Bridge, the 5.5-kilometer Negros-Cebu Bridge, the 24.5-kilometer Cebu-Bohol Bridge, the 18.2-kilometer Luzon (Sorsogon)-Samar Bridge, the 4.4-kilometer Davao-Samal Bridge, and the 28-kilometer Bataan-Cavite Inter-Link Bridge, are already being undertaken under the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility (IPIF) funded by ADB.

(1) The Bohol-Leyte Link Bridge is a 22-kilometer bridge linking Bohol and Leyte provinces, which is expected to reduce travel time from three hours (using RORO) to only 40 minutes.

(2) The Negros Cebu Link Bridge is a 5.5-kilometer bridge linking Negros and Cebu, which is expected to reduce travel time from 40 minutes (using RORO) to only 10 minutes.

(3) The Cebu - Bohol Link Bridge is a 24.5-kilometer bridge linking Cebu and Bohol, which is expected to reduce travel time from two hours and 10 minutes (using RORO) to only 30 minutes.

(4) The Luzon (Sorsogon) - Samar Link Bridge is a 18.2-kilometer bridge connecting the Island of Samar in Eastern Visayas to the main island of Luzon (Allen-Matnog). Travel time will be reduced from three hours and 20 minutes (using RORO) to only 40 minutes.

(5) The Davao-Samal Link Bridge is a one-kilometer bridge linking Island Garden City of Samal and Davao City. Travel time will be reduced from 26 to 30 minutes (using RORO) to only 2-5 minutes.

(6) The Bataan - Cavite Interlink Bridge is a 28-kilometer bridge connecting Mariveles in Bataan to Corregidor to Naic in Cavite. Travel time will be reduced from six hours to 45 minutes.

Also, the pre-feasibility study and the feasibility study for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridge Project have already been completed under China financing.

Since President Duterte assumed office in June 2016, DPWH has completed 5,950 bridges, 738 of which are local.

Anna Mae "Anime" Yu Lamentillo Logo
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