DANGEROUS COMMUTE Unmindful of the danger, commuters take an improvised trolley using the railroad tracks to cross the Padre Zamora Bridge linking Pandacan and Sta. Mesa in Manila on Tuesday. RAFFY LERMA

DANGEROUS COMMUTE Unmindful of the danger, commuters take an improvised trolley using the railroad tracks to cross the Padre Zamora Bridge linking Pandacan and Sta. Mesa in Manila on Tuesday. RAFFY LERMA

Nearly a month after monsoon rains inundated large parts of Metro Manila, President Aquino and his Cabinet on Tuesday gave the green light for a P351-billion flood-control system that is expected to be completed in 2035.

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board, chaired by Mr. Aquino, also approved the extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2 from the Santolan station in Pasig City to the Masinag Junction in Antipolo City, and the acquisition of additional coaches for MRT 3.

The flood-control master plan, the LRT and MRT projects, the construction of airports in Daraga, Albay province, and Panglao in Bohol province, as well as the upgrade of roads and bridges were approved by the Neda board in Malacañang.

Together with the P351-billion  flood-control master plan, the total cost of the projects is P407.4 billion.

The DPWH master plan, which calls for at least P351.72 billion in infrastructure spending, covers a total of 11 infrastructure projects.

The projects would be funded by the national budget, loans and grants, and public-private partnerships.

“The [flood-control] master plan has been approved by the Neda board with the initial allocation of P5 billion,”  Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters after the meeting. “That will happen immediately.”

In the aftermath of last month’s deluge in Metro Manila and  the central and southern parts of Luzon, triggered by weeks of monsoon rains, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) unveiled the master plan to address the perennial flooding in the metropolis.

Cheaper way

An environment lawyer said there was a cheaper, faster and natural way to address flooding in Metro Manila. Antonio Oposa Jr., a Ramon Magsaysay awardee in 2009, proposed that P100 million be set aside to acquire property for water collection ponds.

“Let’s not build everything in concrete,” he told a hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Clean Water Act last week.

Drainage improvements

The 11 infrastructures in the DPWH master plan  include the Manila core area drainage improvements, P27.2 billion; East Manggahan Floodway and improvement in Cainta and Taytay rivers, P26 billion; Malabon-Tullahan river improvements, P21.6 billion; Meycauayan river improvements, P14.04 billion; Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan river improvements, P8.631 billion; land-raising for small cities around Laguna Lake, P7.15 billion; and improvement of rivers that flow into Laguna Lake, P637 million.

Also included in the plan are “marginal priority” projects: South Parañaque-Las Piñas river improvements, P17.3 billion; and West Manggahan area drainage improvements, P5.52 billion.

“The DPWH project can proceed well as the funds were released. They should start  in a matter of weeks,” Carandang said.

Other projects approved by the Neda board were:

  • Various bridge projects of the DPWH across the country, from 2013 to 2017 (P16.3 billion)
  • Change in scope, increase in cost and implementation of extension for Mindanao Roads Improvement Project, from 2012 to 2014 (P3.9 billion)
  • Bicol International Airport Project, from 2013 to 2015 (P4.8 billion)
  • New Bohol, Panglao Airport Development Project, from 2012 to 2017 (P7.4 billion)
  • Strengthening of Angat Dam and Dike Project 2013 to 2016 (P5.7 billion)

Timetable accelerated

  • Request by  Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.  for financing the Agus VI Hydroelectric Power Plant (units 1 and 2) Upgrading Project, whose cost and period of implementation are not available

The 4.19-kilometer extension of LRT 2 from 2012 to 2016 is expected to cost P9.7 billion, while the MRT 3 Capacity Extension Project from 2012 to 2019 would cost P8.6 billion.

The MRT 3 project involves the acquisition of 52 light rail vehicles.

“There were also various bridge construction projects which were proposed previously by the DPWH. Many of these bridges have to do with the rehabilitation of calamity-stricken areas …. We have approved the acceleration of the timetable for that,” Carandang said.

Deferred

The two projects whose approval was deferred were the Cavite-Laguna Expressway Project and the acquisition of vessels by the Philippine Coast Guard, especially patrol boats,  he said.

“There is the Cavite-Laguna Expressway project. We need to clarify some details, like how it fits in with the national road integration,” Carandang said.

“There is also the acquisition of the vehicles for the Coast Guard, especially patrol boats. There are technical questions that needed to be addressed before it gets approval,” he added.

Once the technical questions were addressed, the projects could move forward, he said. With a report from Ana G. Roa

The original article is published on the 4th of September.

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