President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the flood mitigation measures recommended by his Cabinet men for Cagayan province and Marikina City, Malacañang announced Wednesday, a month after these areas were submerged by Typhoon Ulysses.
Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque did not elaborate the flood management plans suggested by the Build Back Better Task Force chaired by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu during the Cabinet meeting held Monday.
Cimatu and his undersecretaries at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have yet to respond to calls by the Daily Tribune at press time.
Marikina City and Cagayan Valley were submerged in floodwaters brought by “Ulysses” (international name: Vamco) last month, trapping thousands of residents on their rooftops.
Government officials have attributed the massive flooding to successive typhoons which saturated the soil, as well as climate change, mining, deforestation, and Magat Dam’s water release. Luzon province was reeling from the effects of the “Quinta” and “Rolly” when Ulysses pounded the country.
Due to unprecedented flooding, the DENR has since proposed to hold dredging in Cagayan River and Marikina River to prevent the same ordeal in succeeding typhoons.
Cimatu also recommended the “strict implementation” of the easement rule along the riverbanks of Cagayan River.
As for the Marikina River, he recommended the widening of its flood carrying capacity.
The Department of Public Works and Highways reported that it has at least three major flood control projects in Metro Manila underway worth P138 billion.
Duterte earlier issued an executive order creating the Build Back Better Task Force to ensure a whole-of-government implementation and monitoring of post-disaster recovery efforts in typhoon-hit areas.
No hope for Marikina River?
In a recent Senate hearing, an official from the DENR reported that nine times the area of Marikina watershed is needed to absorb all the water poured by “Ulysses” even if all urban development and quarrying activities are stopped in the area.
DENR officials have yet to clarify whether this concern will be addressed by the flood mitigation measures approved by the President.
“The assessment noted that the total disturbed areas for quarrying is 278 hectares which translates to .52 percent of the total Marikina watershed,” said Juan Miguel Cuna, undersecretary for field operations and environment, during a December 10 Senate hearing.
“If all urban development and quarry are stopped and the Marikina watershed is fully planted with 10-year-old mature trees, it will require nine times the area of Marikina watershed to absorb all the water during Typhoon Ulysses,” he added.
Cuna added that the total runoff volume of water from the watershed is estimated at 581 million cubic meters during “Ulysses.”
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