Many of our kababayans in Northern and Southern Luzon had to contend with destroyed homes and properties because of massive flooding after two strong typhoons traversed the country. According to the NDRRMC, it monitored 213 flooding incidents in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses.
This has brought to light the urgent need for mitigation projects that will address the perennial problem of flooding.
In Metro Manila, residents were luckier as floods immediately subsided even in places known as flood-prone areas. Two of these are the municipalities of Malabon and Navotas, through which the Tullahan river system flows, where no major flooding was reported. Government pumping stations aimed to improve management of flood water in the area get a boost from San Miguel Corporation’s dredging of the Tullahan-Tinajeros River system.
We share the astute observation of SMC President and COO Ramon S. Ang (RSA) who says: “There are many factors that lead to flooding, some are natural-occurring, but many are man-made. We are not fully helpless against flooding, there are ways we can mitigate or minimize their impact.”
For the SMC boss, actions speak louder than words. The SMC’s dredging project has widened and deepened the river by up to five meters resulting in no river overflow despite increased volume of water.
The project costs P1-B and is aimed at dredging the 27-kilometer stretch of the river system. It is among the CSR projects of SMC on environmental protection which includes coastal clean-up, tree planting, reforestation, and river rehabilitation.
According to RSA the recent calamities underscore the urgency and importance of all stakeholders coming together to work on multiple, long-term solutions to flooding, such as dredging rivers and taking care of, or re-planting forests.
“More than just providing assistance whenever calamities happen, we at San Miguel sincerely want to help the government and our people address the problem of flooding for the long term. Flooding is a multi-faceted problem and requires multiple approaches. It’s also not just the concern of the government or those provinces who are always affected by it. It’s a concern of all of us Filipinos, and we can all contribute to solving it,” Ang said.
Once the Navotas and Malabon portion of the project is completed, dredging will begin on the Valenzuela and Caloocan parts of the Tullahan river.
Encouraged by the positive outcome of the Tullahan river dredging, LGUs in Bulacan, another flood-prone province, asked SMC to conduct dredging in the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System. Bulacan is the site of the new Manila International Airport being built by SMC.
There is also a plan to dredge the Pasig River to improve the flow of water as part of the development of the Pasig River Expressway project.
Lauding government efforts in cleaning up Manila Bay, RSA expressed the need for everyone to do his part to sustain the gains.
“Cleaning the tributaries leading to Manila Bay would entail massive cost and we understand that the government has to prioritize more urgent basic needs during the pandemic. We are here to support the government in whatever way we can,” he said.
Aside from its dredging activities, other flood mitigation projects of SMC include planting mangroves in coastal areas in Bulacan and Central Luzon.
The task of environmental protection is a monumental and continuing one. But it can be done through the joint effort of the government and the private sector. Environmental protection is vital to sustaining economic growth and development. A thriving economy and a healthy environment is possible if we all do our part.
The writer has authored at least 50 coffee-table books to his credit.