Rough Cuts | Unearthing ‘cans of worms’

This is the problem with government. It only acts when the situation becomes worst or when disasters happen either due to man-made or natural causes.

Let us take the case of the perennial flash floods that submerge the portion of the C.P. Garcia Diversion Highway fronting La Verna subdivision every time heavy rains fall in that part of the city. It is not only vehicular and pedestrian traffic that are adversely affected. The houses are also inundated by dirty water.
In a column we wrote last week we asked publicly what happened to the much talked about multi-million drainage improvement project of the city government. That project is supposed to address the frequent flooding of certain areas in the city every time there are heavy rains. But after so many traffic creating diggings and excavations to implement the project the floods continue and are even getting worst.
Finally, the city council got the courage to call the attention of the Regional Director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to explain why the La Verna stretch of the C.P. Garcia highway still gets flooded every so often.
The explanation of DPWH director Allan Borromeo in his appearance at the Sanggunian session Tuesday last week, on cursory assessment, appeared simple and naturally defensive. But a deeper scrutiny of his assertion that the natural water catchment somewhere in the vicinity of La Verna and neighboring subdivisions is already taken over by illegal settlers disclosed more unnerving issues.
Also, the DPWH director admitted that the development authorized to be undertaken in the area that made it a mix residential-commercial enclave has already taken its toll on the absorptive capacity of the soil for rain water.
Other than that, whatever remains of the width and depth of existing drainage canal and the catch basin are further constricted not only by illegally constructed structures but also by the wanton disposal of household waste therein.
But look now, had not the members of the City Council deciphered closely the statement of the DPWH regional director? Yes, he was seeking the help of the Council to relocate the illegal settlers in the catch basin and on the banks of the drainage canals in that part of the city.
They should read or interpret the statement between the lines. Whose responsibility is it to regulate the development of residential and/or commercial/industrial subdivisions in the city, is it not the City Council’s? In fact even if the developer gets the approval from appropriate national regulatory bodies such as the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) it is still the local government that has the final say because the area/s to be developed is part of its patrimony.
Moreover, any adverse effect of the development, it is the people of the city that stands to be affected. Hence, if the city’s population suffers the city on the whole suffers from such consequence. So, who were those who gave the imprimatur for the location clearance of La Verna and its neighboring residential and commercial subdivisions? It is the city government through the City Council. So by calling the DPWH director to explain in the Council in session, the councilors may not have realized that they have dug “cans of worms” that they themselves “raised” through their previous not-well-thought of decisions, and figuratively “buried” in the silts of the open canals and catch basins of that part of the city.
And the La Verna case is only one of many such nests of potential watery disasters. Somewhere in Cabantian-Indangan-Communal triangle, the rapid conversion of the areas into residential and commercial enclaves can be one big disaster waiting to happen. The drainage system in the area is as messy as the system in other parts of the city.
The existing open canals where the outlets of drainage pipes from huge low, middle and high end subdivisions are not that big in width and deep in depth. There has been so far no expansion work done even as the growth in the number of residential houses, commercial establishments, and population is increasing by leaps and bounce.
And worst, developers are cutting trees, leveling and/or scraping hills without abandon to give way to “saleable” plains.
Again from whom these developers are getting their permits to undertake their environmentally damaging activities in the name of development? The City Council knows the answer.
And what is the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) doing amidst all these things? Why did the Council the council call the DPWH instead of the City Engineer’s Office (CEO)to find out what’s wrong with the La Verna area? The CEO people should have gone out from the confines of their air-conditioned offices to do inspection and monitoring of areas considered flood-prone or potentially dangerous for natural or man-made calamities. Should not the CEO be first to advise the City Council for any evolving disaster-prone areas of the city?
Gauge from the move of the City Council, apparently the CEO did not do its job.
And the Council missed doing its own responsibility as well.

Posted in Opinion