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VG Pineda seeks river desilting to ease flooding

  • Written by Bernard Galang
  • Published in Provincial
  • Read: 160

CITY of San Fernando, Pampanga -- To ease flooding here and in four towns of Pampanga, acting Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda has initiated talks with mayors and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials on his proposal to desilt and clear the waterways of Sapang Labuan through non-commercial quarrying.

Sapang Labuan is fed by the Pasig-Potrero River through Gugu River and by rivers from San Fernando and Sto. Tomas. All these water drain toward the San Fernando-Sto. Tomas-Minalin Tail Dike before heading to Sapang Labuan. This runs through the towns of Guagua and Sasmuan before finally exiting to Pasac River and Manila Bay.
   
To improve the water-catching capacity of Sa-pang Labuan, at least 3.5 kilometers of it are needed to be removed of silt, according to Engr. Enrico Guilas, chief of the DPWH Pampanga First District Engineering Office.
   
The desilting and clearing of Sapang Labuan have been proposed by the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) where Pineda is acting chair, PDRRMC officer Angelina Blanco said. Guilas is a member of the PDRRMC.
   
In the first of a series of consultations that began last Friday, November 11, and to end in a hearing by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Pineda proposed that local governments in the City of San Fernando, Sto. Tomas, Minalin, Guagua and Sasmuan should field a certain number of trucks each daily to haul lahar (ash, sand, mud and pumice stones) out of Sapang Labuan.
   
Under the plan, the materials would be given free as panambak (filling materials) to existing government and civic projects in the city and four towns.
   
“The province cannot do it alone. We could save money and time if we work together to desilt Sapang Labuan,” Pineda told San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago, Minalin Mayor Edgar Flores, Guagua Mayor Dante Torres and Sasmuan Mayor Nardo Velasco.
   
“We share the same objective to save our people from the risks of flooding. Protecting the general welfare of our constituents is our mandate under the Local Government Code of 1991,” Pineda said.
   
The plan includes involving property developers in this flood-reduction effort.
   
Guilas backed Pineda's proposal, saying the DPWH has no funding in 2016 to desilt and clear Sapang Labuan of lahar.
   
In DPWH's initial estimate, some 960,000 cubic meters of lahar equivalent to 16,000 truckloads need to be removed, requiring the government to spend around P536 million in excavation and hauling costs.
   
At an average of 1,000 truckloads per day, the desilting and clearing could take 18 months.
   
One of the suggestions is to exempt participating private haulers from paying P430 per truckload, which the provincial government collects for administrative fee (P250), sand tax (P150) and weighing fee (P30).
   
Total collections from the quarry industry have reached P2 billion since the term of Gov. Lilia Pineda began in 2010. The P150 is divided among the provincial government, towns/cities and barangays on a 30-30-40 percent sharing.
   
Next meetings will discuss how this government desilting project will not compete with commercial quarrying.