DPWH braces for La Niña, aims to fund more flood control projects

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 04:38 PM

Bikers brave gutter deep floods on Taft Avenue on June 11, 2020 due to a downpour brought by Tropical Depression Butchoy amid limited operations of public transportation in Metro Manila due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will scale up its infrastructure spending for flood control projects to respond to La Niña, the agency’s chair said Wednesday.

At a Senate hearing on the proposed 2021 DPWH budget, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said they had mapped out measures to mitigate the impact of the weather phenomenon, which is linked to destructive flooding due to increased rainfall.

“We've been preparing for it… In fact, we are continuing to increase the size of our sewage pipes. So that’s something that’s ongoing,” he said when aSen. Nancy Binay asked about the agency’s preparations for La Niña.

For 2021, the agency is proposing a budget of P667.32 billion, 15 percent higher than its 2020 allocation of P581.67 billion. Of the total, some P638.36 billion is allocated for infrastructure projects.

“If you look at the budget, we invest heavily on flood mitigation. We will continue to do so and I think it will help mitigate the effects of La Niña,” Villar said.

The agency has earmarked P84.38 billion for the construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of flood mitigation structures, drainage systems and other facilities within major river basins and principal rivers.

For Metro Manila, the DPWH has crafted a comprehensive master plan for 11 flood control projects, which include the Pasig-Marikina River Improvement and Dam Construction, Villar said.

The agency also has master plans for major river basins in the country, such as the ones in Cagayan, Pampanga and Panay, he added.

In early October, weather forecasters warned that more rains would be expected in the coming months due to the onset of La Niña.

Based on the latest forecast, weak to moderate La Niña is likely to persist until the first quarter of 2021, state weather bureau PAGASA had said.

The above normal rainfall conditions could trigger floods, flashfloods and landslides, particularly on the eastern parts of the country, which normally receive greater amount of rainfall at this time of the year, it added.