Clogged drainage systems delay flood pumping operations — MMDA

Marje Pelayo   •   June 25, 2019   •   2813

MANILA, Philippines – It’s not yet typhoon season in the country but the prevailing rain showers and thunderstorms are already inundating most parts of Metro Manila, congesting traffic and affecting the riding public.

Personnel of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have been busy in de-clogging drainage systems such as a retarding pond along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City.

But according to the MMDA, flooding has already become a normal scenario in most parts of Metro Manila and there is no way to stop it.

“Hindi na po kasi namin maipapangako na hindi babahain ang Metro Manila. Ang Metro Manila (ay) napakababa ng sea level natin,” explained MMDA Spokesperson and ASec. Celine Pialago.

(We cannot promise at this point that flood will be prevented in Metro Manila because Metro Manila’s sea level is low.)

“Ang kaya na lang naming gawin at iyon ang sinisikap namin, pabilisin po ang paghupa dahil tuwing may pagbaha, may pagbigat sa daloy ng trapiko, may congestion, pinagdudusahan po natin ito,” she added.

(What we can do is to try hastening the drainage of flood water because every time there is flooding, the traffic flow gets heavier then congestion follows which burdens us all.)

What concerns the MMDA most is improper waste disposal that results in the clogging of drainage which leads to severe flooding in Metro Manila.

This is why the MMDA has started de-clogging operations to clean up wastes from tributaries ahead of the typhoon season.

“Kapag napupuno ng mga basura ‘yung mga esteros natin, nagbabaha sa Metro Manila, pina-pump natin ‘ang tubig,” Pialago said.

(When esteros are filled with waste materials they cause floods in Metro Manila. What we do is, we pump out the floodwater.)

“Worst case, nasisira ang ating pumping stations (so) nagkakaroon ng delay sa operations,” she added.

(Worst case is that our pumping stations end up broken which delays our operations.)

According to barangay officials in Binondo, they regularly clean up waste materials from Estero de Magdalena every Saturday.

However, after some time they once again saw a pile of garbage in the supposedly cleaned estero.

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Center noted that up to 300,000 kilograms of garbage materials are being collected from the river every year coming from about 270 families which they need to relocate.

Some families have volunteered to leave the place but ended up returning because it is closer to their sources of livelihood.

Some of them travel on a weekly basis.

“Walang hanap-buhay doon sa Cavite (There’s no employment in Cavite),” said Ester Galarosa whose family has been relocated in Cavite.

She said she returns to Manila to vend.

“Bumabalik talaga kami para naman kahit paano makaraos man lang sa pagkain namin araw-araw (We return (to the city) to support our needs, so we could look for food to eat),” explained Fredo Peñano, also relocated in Cavite.

The MMDA assured that they regularly do de-clogging operations in different parts of Metro Manila in order to fast track the pumping of floodwater and prevent inconveniences. – (with details from Harlene Delgado)

International travel still restricted under GCQ, PH Immigration bureau says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Friday that international travel restrictions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will still be implemented despite the easing of community quarantine protocols in Metro Manila.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that international travel restrictions imposed under the enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine are still in place unless these are lifted or eased by the national government.

“As a consequence, our operations at the NAIA are still downscaled and our personnel there are still on skeletal and rotational deployment,” Morente said.

“Nonetheless, we assure the public that we are always ready to resume full, normal operations in our international airports once the government decides to ease or lift these travel restrictions,” he added.

Meanwhile, Immigration acting port operations chief Grifton Medina said that BI officers at the NAIA currently serve an average of only 20 to 30 flights a day, a third of which are special flights that ferry medical supplies and other kinds of cargo into the country.

As for the passenger flights, Medina said these are mostly repatriation flights that transport returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and chartered sweeper flights that bring foreigners stranded here back to their home countries.

Under existing guidelines approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Infectious Diseases (IATF), only OFWs, Filipino citizens and their spouses and dependents, permanent residents, and foreign diplomats are allowed to enter the country.

All foreigners can leave anytime but Filipinos are not allowed to depart unless they are permanent residents or holders of student visa in their country of destination.

Metro Manila will be placed under GCQ beginning June 1 after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to ease quarantine restrictions.

Under GCQ, limited operations of public transportation will be allowed to resume and more businesses are allowed to reopen.

Metro Manila may transition to GCQ after May 31 —Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   May 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 hopes to come up with a decision on whether to extend or lift the existing modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and other areas in the country after May 31.

Malacañang sees a greater chance of transitioning from MECQ to general community quarantine (GCQ) come June 1 as recommended by National Task Force on COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

“They gave their recommendation to the IATF but I can quote both of them, chances are we will in fact be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila according to the chief implementer and the DILG secretary,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque. 

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), likewise, recommended to the IATF to place the National Capital Region (NCR) to GCQ.

If that is so, public transport will be allowed but only on a limited capacity to ensure that minimum health standards are observed. 

Meanwhile, Roque appealed to both the public and private sectors to finalize their work schemes following the 50% operational capacity wherein half of the total number of employees will be working on site and half  will be working from home.

“We are appealing to both the private and public sector to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” Roque said. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Walking for hours to reach work, home shouldn’t be part of ‘new normal’, Poe says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday called on the government to provide assistance to employees who are walking for kilometers from home to work and vice versa due to the still limited public transportation means amid the quarantine.

In a statement, Poe lamented reports on employees having to walk for hours to reach their workplaces and go home after the government eased the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last May 16.

While the senator acknowledged the workers’ commitment and perseverance, she said this “must not be part of the ‘new normal’” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

“There’s no doubt about the commitment and perseverance of our workers to return to work to provide income for their families and help shore up businesses sidelined by the pandemic,” she said.

“But the daily commute and walk must not exact a toll on our workers — exposing them to the dangers in the streets and unfavorable weather conditions,” she added.

Some workers reportedly struggled to reach their workplaces on Monday when businesses and offices resumed partial operations after Metro Manila was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Poe said the government should do all it can to “alleviate the daily sufferings of our workers in getting to work” as public transportation services remain limited.

The senator also stressed that the “no work, no pay” employees will be most affected by this situation.

“Especially woeful are the situation of no-work, no-pay employees, who will not earn anything for the day if they fail to show up, or will be meted with deductions if they come late,” she said.

Under the MECQ guidelines issued by the government, select business establishments and offices have been allowed to resume half of their operations with limited workforce. Skeleton workforce and work from home arrangements may also be implemented.

The Department of Trade and Industry earlier urged employers who were allowed to resume operations to provide shuttle services to their employees.

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