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DPWH exec denies Camanava is sinking

By Evelyn Macairan and Jerry Botial
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 [ ]

An official of the Department of the Public Works and Highways (DPWH) downplayed yesterday reports that the overextraction of groundwater has reportedly caused the sinking of some parts of the Camanava (Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela) area.

DPWH-Camanava flood control project director Engineer Macariola Bartolo said she does not agree with the scientific findings of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute’s Dr. Fernando Siringan since up to press time no one has come out with a report, backed up by solid findings, proving that floods in Metro Manila are due to land subsidence.

She thinks the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority is the government agency that is capable of determining if some parts of the country are indeed sinking, “but this would entail a long time of research and substantial funding.”

Siringan said the flood problem in the country is worsening and one alleged clear indication is the high floodwaters in the Camanava area, wherein the floodwaters are high even during high tides.

But Bartolo said since 1945, about 70 to 80 percent of the Camanava area is always submerged in water, but this has gone down to 45 percent.

She also reminded Siringan that about 70 to 80 percent of Malabon and Navotas was reclaimed from Manila Bay.

“So if there is a lowering of land, this was only caused by the consolidation of land or it was only pressed because there is a heavy structure like a big building placed on top of it or may be heavy vehicles such as cargo trucks often pass by. May be it was not caused by land subsidence,” Bartolo said, adding that the DPWH has already initiated measures to strengthen roadways.

She said scientists should consider other causes for the flooding, “such as the water ways might have been clogged by silt or garbage. We are all very well aware that many Filipinos have the indiscriminate habit of dumping debris in the water.”

As for Siringan’s claim that the flood control project was wrongly designed, Bartolo said none of those on the scientist’s team is an engineer, “so how can they say that what we are doing is wrong?”

She said that in 2005 to 2006 they asked the DPWH-Bureau of Designs to re-evaluate the project. After a six-month study, the bureau reported that “there was nothing wrong with the designs and that it was in concurrence with international and DPWH standards.”

“If they still think that we made a mistakes then they should give us computations. They should prove that we made a mistake because we have proof, research and evidence to back up our designs. We have a detailed design,” Bartolo said.

Meanwhile, an angry Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco called up The STAR yesterday, complaining that Bartolo’s claim that the DPWH project was responsible for the greatly reduced flooding in the city.

“This is not true! Another damn lie!” he said, adding that the reduced flooding was due to the 20 pumping stations installed by the city government.

He dared Bartolo to prove him wrong, saying that when it floods in Navotas, “the DPWH should use their pumps to remove the floodwaters. I will not run the (city’s) pumps.”


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