President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando and Vice Gov. Alex Castro entertained questions from members of the Malacanang Press Corps and Bulacan-based reporters just after a dialogue with Bulacan officials in another room in Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center on Monday when he visited the province to deternine the actual causes of the flooding typhoon Egay, southwest monsoon and typhoon Falcon brought to Bulacan, the damages it brought and also to distribute aids in form of cash, relief packs and projects. Photo by Anton Luis Catindig

CITY OF MALOLOS–President Marcos brings nearly P1-Billion worth of financial assistance and relief packs to the provincial government of Bulacan and at least ten cities and municipalities including through the various programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development (DHSUD) as he visited the province on Monday following the onslaught of typhoon Egay, southwest monsoon and typhoon Falcon.  

In a briefing with Bulacan officials, the President who listened to Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando’s presentation of appeal to address the perennial four decades of floods in the province said the national government will now conduct dredging of Bulacan rivers as an emergency response wherein backhoes and other dredging equipment from non-flooded areas  in the country will be used to massively conduct the dredging.

The President who noticed a much larger and bigger damages caused by rains and floods brought by typhoon Egay and southwest monsoon rains including from typhoon Falcon said that his administration has already made initial effort to address the flooding by creating the Office of the Water Resources under his office while waiting for the passage of the law that would create a department of water resources management.

Fernando reported to the President that the province incurred almost P769 million in damages to agriculture, P500 million damages to infrastructure as 296,426 families or 1,080, 833 residents were affected by the floods in almost all the 20 towns and four cities in the province.

The provincial government initially received P15 from P20 million worth of financial aid and the City of Malolos, San Miguel, Hagonoy, Pulilan, San Rafael, San Ildefonso, Calumpit, Paombong and Bulakan towns received the first P2-million of the P3 million in aid.

DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian who was with the President said they have already distributed 75,000 relief packs and will distribute more for 105,000 additional beneficiaries through the requests of the different Bulacan congressmen. He said there will be a total of P500 million worth his agency has allotted for the relief packs and other assistance to Bulacan. An initial P10 million worth Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) were also distributed. Gatchalian also said that there were 75-140,000 families who will receive the said cash assistance which includes fishermen, the poorest of the poor and the 4P’s beneficiaries.

DOLE had distributed P31 million for the beneficiaries of Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD)and a separate P3.8 million for the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program.

Residents whose houses were totally and partially destroyed will receive help from the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development. “We could provide them with construction materials or cash for those whose houses were partially damaged,” the president said.

The President also directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to install more culverts and improve the drainage system along the Plaridel Bypass after Fernando informed him that the said road has blocked the existing drainages in the formerly irrigated and non-irrigated areas in the towns of Plaridel, Guiguinto, Bustos, San Rafael and Balagtas where the bypass was built and had contributed to the flooding even in the towns of Pandi and Angat.

“Bakit nagkaganoon, what happened, wala bang nga culverts na nailagay as part of the engineering design,” he said.

DPWH Reg. 3 Director Roseller Tolentino who said he came from Bulacan told the President that there were culverts and drainage systems put in place but the openings of these facilities were affected. He assured the president that their office will install more culverts this time to help remedy the flooding. “The openings of the culverts on both sides of the bypass became smaller,” he said.

But the long term solution, according to the president, would be the construction of water impounding facilities to address the flooding in Bulacan. The impounding area will not just be a small ordinary facility but would be on a large scale, 200 hectares wide to serve not only as a flood control project but also as an irrigation facility and may also be used for power generation.

“Kailangan na talaga natin ito kasi mukhang talagang hindi na tayo babalik sa dati na pag dry season ay walang ulan, dahil sa climate change. Kailangan tayong mag-imbak ng tubig kapag umuulan para may magamit tayo kapag tag-araw at kailangan natin sa ating irigasyon. Lalo’t higit kailangan natin as a flood control project,” the president said.

Fernando, together with Vice Gov. Alex Castro and City of Malolos Mayor Christian Natividad also complained to the President the damages and blockades brought to the water tributaries and drainages along the stretch of the Philippine National Railways by the North South Commuter Railways (NSCR) project from Calumpit to City of Meycauayan that caused the 3-5 days long flooding along the MacArthur highway particularly in this capital city of Bulacan.

Marcos said there is already a master plan for a flood control project and he will give Fernando a copy.

He also announced the suspension of the land development and reclamation in Bulakan Bulacan coastal areas pending review. “The reclamation there was all suspended now except for one which is the only one that had undergone review and approval,” the president said. Bulacan Fifth District Ambrosio Cruz Jr. said other than the airport, there are also other major developments being undertaken in the area.

He ordered Fernando to submit all the flood mitigation programs And projects the province has  listed.

Fernando also reported to the President the sudden release of huge volume of water in Bustos Dam by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) which also largely contributed to flooding in the low lying areas of the 10 towns along Angat River including the high tide and back-flooding of waters from Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija that submerged and have affected almost all the 20 towns and four cities in the province.