LEST we again set aside the problem of flooding in Bacolod because sunny days are back, I would like to continue dealing with this urgent concern. In the light of rapid conversion of city lands into prime residential areas, condominium buildings, and malls, Bacoleños must be vigilant in monitoring the environmental impact of all these developments.
Global Climate Change that has seen massive meltdown of icebergs and glaciers, the widespread clearing of forests most notably the once pristine Amazon jungle of Brazil, and consequent rise of water level in the oceans and seas, have led to dismal scientific prognostication of low lying settlements in primate cities like Jakarta, Metro Manila, and Bangkok. Jakarta having seen not only flash floods but continuing submersion underwater of the city’s socio-economic, political districts, Indonesia has chosen to move its capital to its outer region that poses lesser risk arising from climate change.
In Metro Manila, and neighboring provinces like Bulacan, and Pampanga, there are districts and barangays that are underwater for most part of the year. In fact, scientific prognostication point to major parts of Metro Manila to suffer the same fate as Jakarta. Within a decade or so, Bacoleños will increasingly face not just flashfloods, but perennial flooding. Filled-up estuaries, creeks and rivers, massive blocking of plastics and other debris of the few remaining creeks and three rivers--Banago, Lupit, and Pahanocoy-Sum-ag, clearing of mangroves to give way to resorts and condos--all have high negative impact leading to widespread flash flooding in Bacolod.
A more recent disturbing development-- the past five years, is the clearing of the mangrove along Mandalagan stream where a clump of illegal settlers is located, close to the back entrance of Robinson Mall. While the area is obviously an easement, and therefore cannot be titled, what was once a thriving mangrove by the bridge over the creek, a tributary of Mandalagan River, has now been cleared. What is shocking is that over two years ago, not only did the ‘bakhawan’ disappear, but the creek has been filled to expand the land area for construction. As cited by Ms. Marilu Custer who posted a strong reaction to the flashflood that inundated the Bacolod Street Kids Feeding and Livelihood Center in the same barangay--Brgy. 1.
According to Barangay 1 officials, the property by the mangrove that Dtoto Builders bought at the back of Robinson, along Mandalagan River, is where the water flow out from all the drainages around that area, namely: Mandalagan, Lacson, Barangay 1 etc. Since that property has been developed, and riprapped to stop eroding, the flooding started again in the Lacson area, Aquino Drive, Mandalagan, Banago area and Barangay 1. According to the DPWH, the agency provided the Dtoto Builders huge culverts to install for the outflow of water into the Mandalagan river, and onto the sea. The Mandalagan river, where all the outlets for all the drainages of Barangay 1 residential houses, commercial buildings and offices flow, lies on the back road--a shortcut path going to Robinson Mall. Allegedly, as shared by the barangay officials, the huge culverts which could have held greater volume of outflow water were replaced with small “tamburongs” or drainage pipes that could not hold much rainwater water. Thus, the contaminated rainwater flowed back to the streets of Bacolod City.
As graphically noted by Ms.Custer who with her Foundation staff had to spend two days to clean and sanitize their flooded premises, can you imagine, the water with E. Coli, pees of the rats and dirt of all insects coming from all our septic tanks, the contaminated septic tank water mixed with rainwater, and flowed (sic) freely to the whole areas of Bacolod?
The Mandalagan river has virtually disappeared by the back road leading to Robinson with the clearing of the mangrove, and the landfill of the easement in the area. The Cenro governing Bacolod, EMB, the Barangay 1 and city officials-- City Planning Development Office, the City Council, and the mayor need to be put to task. What this environmental travesty need is a systematic investigation by the Sanggunian Environmental Committee and the City Council itself. Members of mass and social media must press for definitive action to reclaim the mangrove and portions of Mandalagan river and easement area that has been filled and built over with structures like office and town houses.