[PHOTO - A vehicle drives through a flooded street after a sudden heavy downpour in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines. The heavy rain triggered flashfloods around metropolitan Manila clogging traffic along major roads in the city. Some places that were never flooded before, have been experiencing floods, said Siringan, adding this is more noticeable in almost all places in Metro Manila]

MANILA, AUGUST 21, 2012 (PHILSTAR)  By Christina Mendez -The entire Metro Manila has started to “sink” due to global warming and floods and to the rampant setting up of illegal fishponds in nearby provinces, an expert from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Institute said yesterday.

Fernando Siringan made the revelation when he faced the Senate committee on climate change.

Siringan explained the cause of massive flooding in Metro Manila in recent weeks.

“One major point is that the land in Malabon is sinking, and not only in Malabon. Actually, the entire Metro Manila is sinking. And you’ll have to consider that it’s sinking not slowly, it’s sinking at several centimeters per year,” Siringan said.

He also said there is no sense in dredging rivers if it continues to be filled with trash.

He said the rising sea level as well as oil subsidence should be considered in the conduct of anti-flood projects, especially in the Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela (Camanava) area.

“There are places in Malabon and Pampanga where soil subsidence is at 10 centimeters and half a meter every year, respectively,” Siringan said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate committee on climate change, echoed Siringan’s statements.

“This is not new because we have been saying this even before. Many areas are sinking every year so this should be incorporated in the planning of projects in the affected areas,” Legarda said.

In the long term, there is a need to clear up waterways, rivers and lakes, Legarda said.

She said there is also a need to remove human settlements in major drainage systems.

“We will collate all of these together so that we will be able to have a framework on how to address the massive flooding in the metropolis,” she said.


Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino and other MMDA executives, meanwhile, were dumbfounded yesterday over the exposé of a senator that a number of the water pumping stations in Metro Manila and Bulacan failed to operate during the recent monsoon rains because of lack of diesel supply.

When confronted by Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Tolentino and MMDA engineer Emma Quiambao denied that other pumping stations ran out of gas.

“So are you denying that (the pumping stations) in Binondo, Pandacan, San Andres... stopped because of lack of gasoline?” Cayetano asked the MMDA chairman during a Senate hearing yesterday.

Cayetano also confronted Tolentino for putting up plant boxes on middle islands in EDSA, which apparently became one of the reasons for the heavy flooding of the P. Tuazon tunnel in Cubao, Quezon City at the height of monsoon rains.

But Tolentino explained there were many reasons why there was flooding in the metropolis and this should not be entirely attributed to the pumping stations, which are old and outdated.

Quiambao was designated as chairperson of the MMDA Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office after its previous chairman, Baltazar Melgar, was sacked for the failure of the pumping stations to operate properly.

Tolentino also reported that there are nine flood-prone areas in the metropolis, excluding the Camanava area.

“Metro Manila can never be flood resistant,” Tolentino said, adding that no amount of massive infrastructure development and effort to minimize trash can ensure a flood-free metropolis because a number of areas are “below sea level.”

Flood control fund

Malacañang is releasing P5 billion for flood control projects that have to be immediately undertaken in Metro Manila and nearby areas, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said yesterday.

He told congressmen that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad is making the money available to his department upon instructions from President Aquino.

“We no longer have money in the department specifically for flood control. So Secretary Abad is taking P3 billion from unobligated funds in our budget and P2 billion from national government savings,” he said.

He said P5 billion is not enough to do all disaster-mitigation measures required to prevent a repetition of the recent flooding caused by monsoon rains and by typhoon “Gener.”

“So we will prioritize high impact projects in Metro Manila and neighboring areas,” he said.

He added that in Central Luzon, his agency is completing a flood control master plan for the Pampanga river basin, which includes Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Bulacan.

He pointed out that money for flood control measures that have to be undertaken immediately could come from the national government’s calamity fund.

In his visits to flooded areas, President Aquino has promised to build flood-prevention structures, including dikes in Camanava and Laguna Lake area.

He said the multi-billion-peso Camanava dike built by the previous administration is not serving its purpose of mitigating flooding in the four cities.

Singson also told congressmen that there has to be a “convergence” in the use of funds for projects that could lessen flooding, including pork barrel allocations of members of Congress.

Citing examples, he said irrigation systems and even farm-to-market roads in certain areas could include the rehabilitation of watersheds.

He said small impounding dams and canals could be constructed to trap rainwater, which could later be used to irrigate farms. – With Jess Diaz


Metro Manila sinking at a fast pace

The entire Metro Manila is sinking by several centimetres per year, estimated as one metre in four years, said Dr Fernando Siringan By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief Published: 13:44 August 17, 2012

Manila: The land level of Metro Manila where there are 10 million residents, has been sinking while its sea level has been rising at a fast pace, an expert said, adding that reclamations and over-extraction of water have exacerbated the situation in the capital, an expert said.

The sea level surrounding Metro Manila is rising by almost one centimetre per year because of global warming, Dr Fernando Siringan of the UP Marine Science Institute said during a Senate hearing, the data of which was reported by GMA News.

The entire Metro Manila is sinking by several centimetres per year, estimated as one metre in four years, said Siringan, adding that in northern suburban Malabon, a fishing area compared to Venice, has been sinking by 10 centimetres a year.

Some streets that were elevated by one metre to avoid flood, were flooded again by sea water and not just by rain water in four years, said Siringan, adding, “It only means that Metro Manila’s land level is going down.”

Some places that were never flooded before, have been experiencing floods, said Siringan, adding this is more noticeable in almost all places in Metro Manila.

Scientists suggested that rivers must be widened, not just be de-silted or made deeper. But the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) did not follow this suggestion for flood control, said Siringan.

Instead, the government has continued with its reclamation projects on the coastal areas on the county’s eastern seaboard, to accommodate high-end infrastructure projects, said Siringan.

Over-extraction of ground water has also contributed to the sinking of land level in Metro Manila, said Siringan.

“These conditions should be considered by developers of infrastructure projects,” said Siringan.

All these things should be taken into account in the government’s flood control project, Senator Loren Legarda said in the same hearing on climate change and climate risks in the Philippines.

She also blamed the public works and highways department for insisting not to follow the suggestions of scientists in the government’s flood control projects.

This has resulted in dreadful floods that devastated northern suburban Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela at the height of monsoon-triggered rains for 18 days that started late July, she said.

About 21 typhoons damage the Philippines every year.

The Philippines is part of Asia-Pacific’s Ring of Fire where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions also commonly occur.

Metro Manila is sinking — geologist

KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMA News August 16, 2012 4:07pm 8221 973 8 9413

[PHOTO - Malabon city (Coast) flooded by floodwaters]

A geologist and University of the Philippines professor revealed during a Senate hearing on climate change that Metro Manila is gradually and noticeably sinking.

"Lumulubog ang lupa sa Malabon at hindi lang Malabon. Actually the entire Metro Manila is sinking...not slowly. It's sinking at several centimeters per year," said Dr. Fernando Siringan of the UP Marine Science Institute at Thursday's climate change committee hearing on the state of disaster and climate risks in the country.

He said that in Malabon, some areas have been sinking by 10 centimeters a year and others by as much as one meter in four years.

He said that the subsidence is easily noticeable, as several places that used to be flood-free now experience flooding.

"May kalye na itinaas ng isang metro wala pang tatlo, apat na taon, binabaha na naman ng tubig dagat, hindi tubig ulan. Bakit ka papasukin ng tubig dagat kung 'di bumababa ang lugar?" he said.

Siringan also noted that apart from the region's sinking, the sea level is also rising by almost one centimeter per year because of global warming.

The geologist explained that one of the causes of Metro Manila's sinking is the over-extraction of ground water.

Senate climate change committee chair Senator Loren Legarda added it is also being caused by the conversion of fish ponds into other structures.

"Pag bumabagsak ang lupa, pagdating ng ulan ay siyempre lumulubog...napupuno rin ang ating karagatan and siltation ng mga tubig na ito ay nakakadulot din ng baha," she said.

"Ito ay dapat ini-input sa pagplano ng mga public works project at pati pagplano sa mga flood control project," she added.

Siringan mentioned Metro Manila's sinking after saying the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) did not follow scientists' suggestion to widen the rivers to address flooding in Metro Manila.

"Imbes na luwagan, sinikipan pa ang mga ilog. Walang bisa na laliman nang laliman ang ilog because it will be filled up by sediments anyway," he said.

"Ang point ko lang, kung may mga projects, dapat ikonsider [na] tumataas ang dagat at bumababa ang lupa at ang pagbaba ng lupa ay hindi pantay-pantay at hindi mabagal ito, ito ay mabilis," he added.

Legarda said the DPWH has committed to change phases 1 and 2 of their flood control projects affecting Malabon, Navotas, Caloocan, and Valenzuela, but did not specify the changes. - BM, GMA News

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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