CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The planned infrastructure projects of Public Works Sec. Rogelio Singson are adaptable to climate change and will provide permanent solution to perennial flooding in Pampanga.
This, according to Gov. Lilia Pineda in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Pineda lauded Singson for “his concern for the welfare and safety” of some two million Pampanga residents “manifested in his commitment to construct a much stronger, effective and properly designed dike” at the downstream portion of Gugu River where the so-called tail dike was breached on August 7, causing flooding in this city and the towns of Apalit, Macabebe, Masantol, Minalin and Sto. Tomas.
Pineda said she was told by Singson during the recent Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting here that the P270 million allotted for the rehabilitation of the tail dike and nearby anti-flood system will be released after its designs are finished based on the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) “modern engineering designs and high standards with consideration to the erratic climate change experienced in the entire globe.”
“I agree with the DPWH secretary that vital dikes should be constructed properly based on expert studies.
The money will not be put to waste and the solution is permanent and reliable. It’s not like you are just using ‘salonpas,” said Pineda in the dialect, using as an example the popular pain reliever patch which provide temporary relief and can easily be removed after it was put on.
“It will take some time before the dike is done and completed because the materials to be used, including the cement and steel, should pass the standards set by the DPWH engineers,” said Pineda.
She added that the government agency could not yet start the repair work on the breached dike because the “surrounding area is deep and the water is still flowing strongly.”
Pineda cited the recent completion and opening of the Colgante bridge in Apalit town. The bridge collapsed last year.
She said that the DPWH had used at least P45 million and took some time before completing it “but it’s now better, tougher and for keeps.”
“The Colgante bridge is a concrete example of Singson’s preference for quality project. Yes, we waited longer but the result is much better and the bridge looks indestructible for many, many years,” said Pineda.
The bridge connects the coastal towns of Macabebe and Masantol to Apalit and areas of Pampanga and Bulacan.
But Pineda stressed that the provincial government “will not wait for things to happen,” as it began operations to revive the river channel along the six-kilometer portion of the Minalin-Sto. Tomas dike which is near the damaged dike.
The desilting operations, she added, will allow the water coming from Gugu River to pass to its original channel at Labuan River and then Manila Bay.
Pineda disclosed that the province had started desilting operations and the DPWH regional office was also doing the same in the area.
“We can’t afford to sit down and wait. We must make the immediate remedy because who knows when the next torrential rains and typhoon will come again,” said Pineda.
She also said that she had informed the Federation of Small Scale Quarry Operators of Pampanga (FSSQOP) and other groups that she will ask the provincial board (PB) led by Vice Gov. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao to authorize her to grant “gratuitous permits” for operators in the area.
Pineda said the province is not against time but several other factors, including the unpredictable weather and dangers posed by the water with sediments from Mt. Pinatubo flowing in the direction of this city and four Pampanga towns.
The 80-meter portion of the tail dike was breached, causing floods in the southern portion of the province earlier this month where some villages in Minalin and Sto. Tomas remain flooded until August 29.
Last week, the FSSQOP volunteered to desilt a portion of the river near the breached Minalin-Sto. Tomas tail dike to save this capital city and four other towns from floods. The same group will provide free use of their backhoe on barge to be used for the desilting operations.
Pineda said she had asked the more than 70 members of the FSSQOP and other quarry operators to also desilt the downstream portion of the Gugu River to help in preventing floods.
“Our consistently high collection in quarry will not be affected by the granting of free permits in the area because the operators always prefer the much sought out sands at the upstream portion of Gugu.
We also have to take note that we are saving invaluable lives and properties. In short, we are saving Pampanga,” said Pineda.