MANILA - House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo plans to create a new committee at the House of Representatives, which will be named “Disaster Management Committee."
According to Arroyo, it will “mirror” the Disaster Management Department pitched by President Duterte in his third State of the Nation Address, which seeks to focus on risk reduction in times of natural hazards and disasters.
The Speaker issued the statement in a meeting with local officials of areas affected by recent tropical cyclones, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, at the House of Representatives.
Lawmakers present in the meeting include Bataan Representatives Geraldine Roman and Joet Garcia, Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing, and Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado.
During the meeting, Deloso-Montalla suggested that lawmakers who attended the meeting should be members of the Disaster Management Committee, a proposal seconded by Alvarado.
Among the causes of flooding pointed out by solons are the inadequate drainage systems and the height of roads.
“Why do we keep constructing roads without demolishing previous ones? The disparity between the height of roads and houses of residents is great. Inhabited areas become catch basins. This is an irresponsible form of infrastructure. Not pro-people,” Roman said.
“The DPWH constructs roads without drainage. Why can't we make it an integral part of any project?” the lawmaker added.
But, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), roads need to be higher than the surrounding area so they remain passable even with heavy downpour. It advised officials to relocate residents in such areas to safer grounds instead.
Garcia called for the allocation of funds in the 2019 budget to help LGUs relocate residents living in river areas.
Bataoil said funding for flood-control projects, particularly those protecting agricultural areas, should be increased.
Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, and Pampanga officials also stressed the need for dredging machines.
“Kailangan namin ng tatlong malalaking dredger na all-year round dun nakababad. Kahit mataas ang kalsada, basta ang river dredged, magflow palabas yung tubig,” Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda said.
The DPWH recognized the need to desilt rivers, but also advised the public to stop throwing garbage in rivers to prevent flooding during rainy season.