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MMDA blames squatters for floods

by Rio N. Araja
[ ] August 15, 2011

THE Metro Manila Development Authority on Sunday blamed informal settlers for the perennial problem of floods in the metro.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said over the agency’s weekly radio program that floods are as much a “social problem” as it is an “engineering problem.”

“Flood is an indicator of a problem on human settlement,” he said.

Tolentino attributed much of the flooding in many areas in the metro to dumping of garbage by informal settlers staying along the waterways.

But he added that his agency was coordinating with the National Housing Authority for the relocation of informal settlers living along metro waterways.

Metro Manila is home to 544,609 squatter families, with 75,000 of them staying along esteros, creeks, canals, and rivers.

“We hope the government could come up with a comprehensive shelter program soon,” the MMDA chief said.

The MMDA recently inked the so-called “Estero Declaration” with the 17 metro mayors to come up with solutions for perennial floods. The campaign seeks to protect waterways, and calls on mayors to support the MMDA’s drive to dismantle and clear waterways of illegal structures and encroachments as provided for under the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

Metro Manila has a history of vulnerability to floods, according to a study prepared by the International Institute for Asian Studies. The study said the metro area “now constitutes a vast urbanized drainage basin that experiences frequent inundations from overflowing rivers and stormwaters, rendering the existing system of esteros, modified natural channels constructed during the colonial period, inadequate.”

The dangers posed by metro floods have been exacerbated by climate change and severe changes in weather patterns, other studies have pointed out.

In 2009, typhoon Ondoy dumped 455 millimeters on Metro Manila in just 24 hours, the highest rainfall level in 42 years.

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