Legarda Stresses Need for Improved Governance, Strict Law Compliance to Avert Widespread Flooding

August 20, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for the implementation of laws and programs that will help ease flooding in the country following the disaster brought by Typhoon Maring and the monsoon rains in the metropolis and nearby regions.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Environment and Climate Change, said that first and foremost, local government units (LGUs) should comply with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act 9003) and also start clearing waterways in their areas.

Heavy and continuous rainfall since Sunday has caused massive flooding in the National Capital Region and in neighboring provinces in Luzon and prompted the government to suspend classes and work in affected areas.

“With climate change in our midst, more frequent typhoons are the new norm. But why do our flooding woes seem to worsen every time? A main reason is the non-compliance with our environmental laws. Only about one-third of all LGUs nationwide are complying with the solid waste management law, while the others have yet to strictly and fully implement segregation of garbage at source, recycling and composting,” said Legarda, principal author of RA 9003.

The Senator also said that LGUs should complement the national government’s campaign to address flooding problems through the clearing of waterways, noting that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is carrying out a program to relocate illegal settlers and clear waterways in Metro Manila within 12 months.

“What our LGUs and concerned government agencies must do is to strictly implement the solid waste management law; demolish illegal fish pens in Laguna de bay; undertake massive cleanup of esteros and canals; relocate settlers by the rivers; dredge rivers and other waterways and heavily penalize those who throw waste in rivers and lakes; and enforce an absolute ‘no tree cutting’ policy in the Sierra Madre and other protected areas,” she stressed.

“Disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business, and LGUs should lead this effort by ensuring that homes, schools, hospitals, and buildings are constructed in safe areas and are secure amidst natural hazards, and that roads, bridges and other infrastructure are designed and constructed with economic growth and disaster risk reduction in mind,” she added.

Legarda also said that the government should assess the structural integrity of all dams in the country and retrofit those which need to be fixed.

“With or without these heavy rains and disasters, we have incessantly urged and reminded our LGUs and our citizens to work on preventing and mitigating disasters, such as floods, and not merely respond to their onslaught. We must learn from our experiences, practice enhanced disaster preparedness and response, and be proactive in reducing the risk of disasters,” said Legarda.