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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Editorial: Osmeña’s approach to flooding

IT’S an advice that is often given to leaders. To solve a problem, consider all its aspects--or look at the bigger picture. It’s called the holistic approach. It is a recognition that a problem, no matter how small, is a complex whole and that solving it requires delving into all its connected parts to get the appropriate and effective response. In this context, being simplistic won’t fully solve the problem.

Consider the illegal drug trade. The method that has gained popularity recently to end the menace is to execute the peddlers of this commodity. The logic is that if there are no peddlers there won’t be an illegal drug trade. But that overlooks the fact that the drug menace involves not only the peddlers and their financiers but also other players, like the users.

Thus, because the approach is simplistic, its adherents get lost in the complexity of the problem. In the current drive against the illegal drugs trade, one aspect overlooked is the big market of drug users, most of whom could only escape from their dependence through outside intervention like rehabilitation.

If users are not attended to, the market would still exist and new drug peddlers will surface to answer the need, armed with new methods of satisfying it.

Another simplistic approach is the one peddled by some sectors, including Mayor Tomas Osmeña, to address the flooding problem in Cebu City. Constructing an impounding area for the water during heavy rains may momentarily dry some of the flood-prone area but it is a solution that is limited, temporary and, in the long run, costly.

City Hall cannot dig water holes in all flood-prone areas because there are simply too many of them. Also, the more catchment areas created, the more equipment like pumps would be needed to push the water back to the existing drainage system once the rain stops.

And for how long can these catchment areas be usable without resorting to desilting considering the amount of mud and garbage that flood water brings? Wouldn’t those holes be costly to maintain in the long run? Note that the City can’t even regularly desilt existing esteros.

Why City Hall continues to evade the long-term and more effective solution, which is to come up with a drainage master plan and build an adequate drainage system is beyond us.

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