Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gov't, private developers liable for flood damage in Manila

MANILA - Government agencies and private developers are jointly liable for the massive loss of life and property in several Metro Manila cities for practicing poor urban planning and allowing commercial and residential structures to be built in flood-prone areas, according to "green" architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr.

Palafox said a 1977 World Bank-funded study identified Marikina Valley, the western shores of Laguna de Bay, and the Manila Bay coastal area as among development areas that should prepare for flooding, earthquakes and possible changes in topography.

The Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project (Metroplan), which was finalized by Hong Kong-based consulting firm Freeman Fox and Associates, has been used as a blueprint by urban planning developers and various government agencies and urban planners. Unfortunately, he said corruption and lack of planning has led to the shelving of some of the plan's recommendations.

"You see the irony here. National government agencies are aware that there is a flooding level of so many meters, then another national government agency would approve subdivision plans for only nine-meter high houses. There are about 32 signatures to obtain just to do a development project. It's like an obstacle course," he said in an ANC interview last Tuesday.


He said the Metroplan addressed flood-mapping in Metro Manila, ecifically after the massive typhoon in 1970. He said the Metroplan included the construction of the Manggahan Floodway, which would divert floodwaters from reaching Metro Manila by diverting the water to the Laguna Lake.

"There was supposed to be a ParaƱaque spillway to flush out the excess water to the Laguna Bay and South China Sea, but this was never done. It was part of the recommendation," he said.

Palafox said the study recommended the monitoring of the Marikina Riverbank so that the water would not reach 90 meters. Likewise, no structure should have been allowed within 9 meters from the riverbank, he added.

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