New DPWH chief is Pampanga’s ally vs floods

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New Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar has expressed full support to the long-term programs of the Pampanga provincial government to ease floodings in the province.

Secretary Villar expressed his commitment during a meeting with Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda and Vice Governor Dennis “Delta” Pineda at the DPWH national office in Manila on Sept. 5.

It was learned that a new dredger has been deployed at the mouth of the Pampanga River. Pampanga is downstream of the Pampanga River, which empties 30 rivers in Central Luzon to Manila Bay.

The new DPWH chief is also deploying a backhoe-on-barge to do year-round deepening of waterways in the province.

“Secretary Villar also approved the redesigning of the Sta. Ursula Bridge that is being built over Sapang Labuan between Minalin and Betis. During the Habagat rains last August, the girders of this bridge blocked the flow of water toward the Pasac River which leads to Manila Bay. This means that the level of this bridge is low, so it needs to be raised to drain out the water from the San Fernando, Gugu and Pasig-Potrero rivers,” Vice Governor Pineda explained.

“In the meeting, Governor Pineda called for long-term solutions to flooding such as channel improvements, diking and catchments so that public funds are really used to save the people from harm or risks,” he said.

The provincial government committed to share in the cost of fuel for the equipment being lent by the DPWH. It would undertake more information dissemination on waste management so that waterways are not choked by garbage.

Angelina Blanco, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council officer, said the provincial government also secured DPWH funds for the construction of two permanent evacuation centers. One is owned by the provincial government in Barangay Sta. Maria in Mexico town for the use of the local governments of San Luis, San Simon, Candaba and Mexico. The other is owned by the local government of Lubao and to be used by coastal villages in Lubao and Sasmuan.

Blanco said the DPWH chief also approved the use of a spoil site in Sasmuan town as a temporary evacuation site through a usufruct contract between the agency and the provincial government.

Vice Governor Pineda said Secretary Villar is visiting Pampanga in the last week of September or early October to inspect the agency’s projects.