Category: floods

konting ulan, baha agad

it’s bad enough that the state of our environment is so degraded that an hour or even less of heavy rain brings flash floods and gates-of-hell kind of traffic; what’s worse is hearing the same old crap from MMDA officials who blame it on garbage- and informalsettler-clogged waterways as though they had just found out and are now doing all they can.

as for the palace, abigail valte claims that there are flood control projects going on and that there is a master flood control plan “in various stages.”  more she could, would, not say.  i suppose the binay-roxas project to relocate informal settlers from along riverbanks and straddling esteros and canals is part of that master plan.  if so, it’s obviously at a very early stage, and we see no signs that the effort can, will, be sustained given the lack of relocation sites.

unless, of course, vp & housing czar binay and DILG sec roxas, political rivals who are expected to slug it out for the presidency in 2016, try to outdo each other in the next three years.  then we just might see results.  hope springs eternal.

pablo, logging, mining *updated*

the president has every reason to be apalled by the 1000+ deaths and still counting, 800+ still missing, and P15 billion damage to agriculture and property, not to speak of the despair and misery of the tens of thousands of homeless and hungry, in compostela valley and davao oriental, wrought by typhoon pablo.

Aquino, in a keynote speech during the change of command of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), stressed that preemptive measures should be in place whenever there are incoming typhoons to avoid lost of lives and tremendous damage to properties.

“If there is a need to double our warnings; if there is a need to triple our preparations; if we need to evacuate them one week before massive rains and flooding bring havoc to the people, we will do all of these because it is our duty to save lives to the best of our ability,” he said.

The President said he was appalled by the devastation in New Bataan, Compostela Valley, and Boston, Davao Oriental, both in southern Philippines, during his visit there last week.

senator loren legarda likewise harps on the need for preparedness.

“These would have been avoided if our local government units and all our citizens had knowledge of geohazard maps,” the senator said during the briefing called by the Senate Committee on Climate Change on the use and implementation of the geohazard maps.

She said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources “should not only distribute these maps, but also, and more importantly, educate LGUs on how to read the map and how it will help them in their disaster risk reduction and management efforts.”

“Am I living in a landslide area? Am I living in a flood-prone area? Filipinos in every barangay in the country need to know this information long before any typhoon signals are raised. Coupled with early warning signals at least seven days before any typhoon arrives, we should be able to radically minimize the casualties,” Legarda said.

hmm.  so the solution is to evacuate threatened communities early enough, at least a week before an imminent typhoon. never mind if  that the typhoon could suddenly change course, better safe than sorry.  of course there would have to be properly provisioned evacuation centers that would have to be located on certifiably safe ground or there would be no point to the exercise.  the logistics would be major, the costs considerable, but such is life, or rather, such is the price we pay for an environment degraded eroded raped over the decades (up to the present) by government’s capitalist cronies administration after administration.

not surprisingly, there is no talk of calling for an absolute stop to all logging and mining activities that are mainly to blame for the ecological decay that bring deadly floods and killer landslides during heavy rains.

“The heartbreaking reports of deaths and destruction in New Bataan, Compostela Valley and several Davao Oriental towns and elsewhere show how Mindanao’s environment has reached its maximum limit,” Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB, Panalipdan Mindanao secretary-general, said in a statement.

The group said President Benigno Aquino III’s visit last Friday to disaster-stricken areas “should compel him to stop large-scale mining and other extractive industries that caused the tragedy.”

… She cited a report made by Panalipdan Southern Mindanao that both provinces are swamped with many large-scale mining and logging companies, with Davao Oriental accounting for 31 mining tenements, application and operations while Compostela Valley has 43.

googled and found this: MINING TENEMENTS STATISTICS REPORT AS OF JANUARY ‘2012, Region XI, obviously an incomplete list if sr. stella’s figures are correct.

last year in the wake of sendong, the president was not receptive to talk vs. logging and mining.

Asked about the need to seriously look into illegal mining and illegal logging and amending the existing laws, the President said the rights of businesses must be respected.

He said logging concessionaires have the right to harvest the trees that they planted and the government can’t easily stop their operations.

i wouldn’t be surprised if, like other presidents before him, the prez would rather leave it to the next admin to make the major changes in policies, specifically, a shift from logging and mining to the reforestation and rehabilitation of our denuded and damaged highlands and watersheds.  the prayer now probably is that ondoy, sendong, and pablo were freak disasters, and maybe the streak is over, the next typhoons will be kinder.

otherwise, the environment is an urgent agenda waiting for a president to happen. a president who would see that there is nothing sustainable about the mining and wood industries that have done, and continue to do, so much damage to our lands and waters.  surely there are alternative development strategies that are not so destructive of our island ecologies and that do not enrich a few at the expense of the many.


Crisis in the aftermath of ‘Pablo’
Not learning from Sendong and Pablo
How Aquino log ban was ignored 
Aquino’s Log Ban Plan Flawed, Say Environmentalists
Storms more deadly as Philippines gets hotter 
Disasters and the poor 
Mindanao lumad, green groups blame Aquino’s mining policies for devastation wreaked by typhoon Pablo
Confirmed: Deforestation Plays Critical Climate Change Role 
Mining, logging contributed to RP disaster — experts 
AFTER MARCOPPER The Canadian quandary

habagat blues

yes, it’s wonderful that again, as in ondoy, faceless nameless good-hearted people are pitching in, helping out the government and the red cross in rescue and relief operations for flood victims.  but if, when, this happens again, and again — if indeed this is the “new normal” — volunteer fatigue will surely set in, sooner rather than later.

thank goodness then that despite claims that various measures undertaken by the government had mitigated flood problems and prevented another flooding on the scale of the one caused by tropical storm “Ondoy” in September 2009 — really? — the president is promising long-term solutions, such as flood control infrastructure and better garbage disposal, even if these seem inadequate to the enormity of the problem that includes denuded forests and silted rivers and waterways clogged with trash or taken over by squatter colonies with nowhere else to go.

here’s hoping this aquino admin welcomes unsolicited advice (something cory didn’t) from well-meaning citizens and, even, pinoys abroad.  check out the comments section of this new york times piece, Rains Flood a Third of Manila Area, Displacing Thousands.  read too alex magno’s Deluge, rigoberto tiglao’s The typhoon curse and what to do about it, and alejandro del rosario’s Looking like a shoal.

meanwhile, i’m glad pag-asa’s color coding has changed from red-green-yellow to red-orange-yellow, better late than never.  red makes sense, as in red alert, danger; in traffic red means stop or else!  yellow too makes sense; in traffic it means caution, prepare to stop or go, change coming.  but green, as in green grass and leaves, chlorophyll and oxygen, is good; in traffic green means go, it’s safe, coast is clear.  as intermediate point between caution and danger, green just did not make sense.   orange is the appropriate color code between yellow and red, between caution and danger.  add a little red to yellow and you get orange.  why didn’t pag-asa see this from the first?  what kind of thinking was going on over there?

as for dost’s project noah, that the aquino admin is so proud of, tina monzon-palma’s talkback episode monday night, when the rains started in earnest, said it all.  project noah is helpful and accessible only to english-speaking and computer-literate government officials with internet connections.  sabi nga ni tina, kailangang i-layman-ize ang language (in both  english and tagalog, may i suggest), at kailangang maiparating sa local government officials on the ground, or else, as in this habagat, it is of no help in getting across warnings of great volumes of rainfall coming.

not that getting the message across will guarantee that people living in high-risk areas would be more willing or eager to leave their homes.  unless they can be assured that their homes and property will be secured against looters, as in provident village (a rare case), there will always be those who will wait until the last minute in the hope that god heeds their prayers and stops the rains before the floods rise too high.

the real solution is to relocate all communities away from high-risk areas.  but apart from the problem of where to relocate them and their expected resistance, there’s this that ondoy and the habagat showed:  what used to be low-risk places that never flooded are now high-risk, too, thanks to climate change and trash dams.  it doesn’t help that goverment mismo is saying it’s the “new normal,” as though to say we’ve got to get used to it, which is of a piece with the president saying that there are no instant solutions.  already you doubt that anything significant is going to get done before the next deluge descends upon us.

i know, there’s nothing instantnoodle about infrastructure, but hey, the dredging of rivers, esteros, canals, etc., the clearing of waterways and underground drainage systems metro wide is something that can be done the moment the weather clears.  and garbage management is something that government can grapple with right away, as in now na.  stop with the spin that we are all complicit in the garbage problem, stop laying it at our doorsteps, because what’s lacking is government initiatives and support for serious solid waste management.  people are willing to segregate their household trash but what’s the use if truckers just dump the biodegradable and non-biodegradable, etc. in the same old overflowing garbage dumps, and worse, into rivers and creeks, and even into manila bay.

it’s more fun in the philippines?  no, just more trashy, and pretentious.