DPWH secretary to ask P300 million to solve flood woes

DEPARTMENT of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) secretary Mark Villar said the agency will request for an additional fund worth P300 million from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to fast track the identified priority projects in reducing disastrous flooding in Cagayan de Oro City.

"Magre-request kami sa (We will request) DBM ng (for) additional funding, there's also calamity fund na (that) we can use, I'm planning to request the fund immediately, na-identify na namin yung mga projects na kailangan bigyan ng pondo kaagad para at least hindi na maulit yung ganitong klase nang baha (We already identified the projects that need immediate funding to at least prevent this kind of flooding)," Villar said in an interview.

He said he will try all means to finish the priority projects especially in this city for this year.

"Within the year, definitely, I want to make sure na (that) 1 year from now, hindi na mauulit, mabilis ating kilos, 24/7 yung action namin ngayon (It won't happen again, we can act fast 24/7). Si Presidente is very concerned, we want to make sure the infrastructure is in place para safe yung mga taga Cagayan de Oro (So people of Cagayan de Oro are safe), that's why we are here para ma-identify yung projects na kailangan i-fast track (to identify the projects that need to be fast tracked)," he said.

Villar said a master plan for the drainage project is already available, and its main target is to build a bigger drainage to ensure that water has an outlet where it can come out.

Villar also cited its own project, the Bitan-Ag Bridge along CM Recto Avenue, where the road was raised up to 1.85 meters to supposedly prevent flooding.

On Monday, the water level in the same area has reached chest-deep.

"May bypass project kami there sa Bitan-ag Creek, ‘yung additional tubig na dadaan sa ketkai, doon natin padadaanin (We have a bypass project in Bitan-ag Creek. We can make the water that pass through Ketkai go there). We already have a master plan for the drainage project of the city, expand lahat ng drainage projects, siguraduhin natin na may outflow yung tubig (All drainage projects are expanded, make sure there is an outflow of water)," Villar said.

"Hindi pa ako yung Secretary nung project sa Bitan-ag pero tinaas natin yun para lumaki ang volume ng ilog (I wasn't the Secretary of the project in Bitan-ag yet but we raised it to increase the volume of the river) so I don't think it's any cost of any flooding, if anything, dapat nag-improve sana yung situation diyan, kailangan lang talaga ng mas malalaking drainage (The situation there should improve. It needs bigger drainages). We are looking at the use of pumping stations just like in Manila," Villar added.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III questioned DPWH for their lack of coordination with the City Government in terms of implementing projects.

He said he will give the agency two months to explain what happened to their projects that were supposed to prevent flood in the city.

"Kinahanglan mag-coordinate sila DPWH, kay ang DPWH kung mag-identify sila sa ilang programs (They [DPWH] need to coordinate, ‘cause when DPWH identify their programs), it must be harmonious of the priority programs of the city, especially with infrastructure like roads, bridges, drainage, ports," he said.

Villar said he will answer Pimentel's query immediately and present to him the priority projects which he promised to fast-track.

The DPWH secretary also recognized the importance of the coordination with the local government unit in the success of their projects.

"Laging issue kasi ang right of way, at mahirap ito dahil involve yung mga residente, kailangan lang talaga may coordination with LGU kasi sila yung magahahanap ng relocation sites para sa mga residenteng maapektuhan sa ating mga proyekto (The right of way is always an issue and it's hard because residents are involved in this. It needs to have coordination with LGU because they will find the relocation sites for the residents affected in the project)," he added.

To date, DPWH is currently undertaking partial implementation of the drainage system, preparing the program of work to determine the exact amount needed, and is proposing the installation of box culverts to minimize the acquisition of the road right-of-way.

While these projects are underway, DPWH has also noted the need for relocation sites and the execution of solid waste management as well as the regulation of mining and illegal logging in the region.

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