MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet have approved infrastructure plans meant to prevent flooding in Marikina and Cagayan, where typhoon Ulysses in November trapped residents on top of their rooftops as they waited for rescue from floods, Malacañang said on Thursday.
The Duterte Cabinet, which met last Monday, approved the following recommendations of the Build Back Better task force in charge of typhoon rehabilitation efforts, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
- Widening of Magapit narrows and the removal of 19 sandbars in Cagayan River
- Removal of illegal structures in Marikina river
- Fast-tracking proposed DPWH flood mitigation projects including the Upper Marikina Dam and the Parañaque Spillway
- Rehabilitation of existing floodgates and pumping stations and construction of 7 flood control projects along Bicol River
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who co-leads the task force, said contractors would dredge the heavily silted rivers for free, in exchange for being allowed to sell or use sand from there. They will be required to pay a 4-percent excise tax, he said.
Contractors should be Filipino firms. Asked if they could sell the sand to China, Cimatu said, "Yes." China undertakes massive reclamation projects including in the disputed South China Sea, where it has denied Philippine claims and encroached upon the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
"Mayroon namang kasulatan d'yan na dapat hindi pupunta iyong nakuha nilang sand in some places na West Philippine Sea, Scarborough. May specified po na pupuntahan lang iyan," he said.
(There is an agreement there that the sand they got cannot go to some places like the West Philippine Sea, the Scarborough Shoal. There are specified areas where they could go.)
The West Philippine Sea is the country's EEZ in the South China Sea.
China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the international waterway believed to be rich not only in marine resources but also of gas and minerals.
China's sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea, where it reclaimed disputed features and fortified those with military installations, has been invalidated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016.
Cimatu could not give an estimate of the cost of the projects and the source of funds yet.