September 28, 2009

The Big Flood - Storm System Ondoy, Metro Manila

Ondoy Aftermath
Originally uploaded by John Javellana
Last Saturday, September 26, 2009, storm system Ondoy hit Metro Manila in the morning. Raining continuously for six hours, the storm dumped 455mm of rain. Typhoon Katrina, which hit the United States in 2005, was a baby compared to Ondoy. By the time the storm was over, eighty percent of Metro Manila was submerged in water, with some areas reporting flooding that was higher than man-height. As of today, between 100-120 people are believed dead, and hundreds more missing. Needless to say, more casualties are to be reported as the water recedes. Damage to agriculture alone was pegged at PHP500 million. Damage to other properties are believed to more than double this number.

How and why this happend, we will never really know. There are a lot of factors. The continuous torrent of rain; the insufficient drainage of water from the Metro's streets and highways; the clogged esteros. In the end, this will be another disaster in the long list of disasters, man-made or otherwise, to hit the Philippines. And sad to say, there's not a single note-worthy solution in sight.

Interestingly, here's an exerpt from Gloria Macagal-Arroyo's State of the Nation Address last July:

“As a country in the path of typhoons and in the Pacific Rim of Fire, we must be prepared as the latest technology permits to anticipate natural calamities when that is possible; to extend immediate and effective relief when it is not; the mapping of flood-and-landslide-prone areas is almost complete. Early warning, forecasting and monitoring systems have been improved, with weather-tracking facilities in Subic, Tagaytay, Mactan, Mindanao, Pampanga.

“We have worked on flood control infrastructure like those for Pinatubo, Agno, Laoag, and Abucay, which will pump the run off waters from Quezon City and Tondo flooding Sampaloc. This will help relieve hundreds of hectares in this old city of its age-old woe.

“Patuloy naman yung sa CAMANAVA, dagdag sa Pinatubo, Iloilo, Pasig- Marikina, Bicol River Basin, at saka river basin ng Mindanao.”

Big words. And yet they remain just that. Words.

It is also maddening to know that since 2001, the Philippine Government has collected P56.5 billion from Road Taxes; but instead of channeling this money to improvement of road infrastructure, it has instead been allocated to other things, like funding for ASEAN summit in 2007. Once again, corrupt hands have been dipping at the cookie jar, funnelling away money for their own ends instead of pouring it into much needed better roads and highways.

Election time is around the corner, and for sure, this latest tragedy will be in everybody's minds as each candidate lays out his platform of government. I only hope that this time, the Filipino people will be wiser in choosing the right person to lead the country.

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