Reyza Ferranco

As the onset of rainy days and typhoon season continues to pose challenges for Filipinos, the nation's focus remains resolute on the Philippine government's response. Many Filipinos seek effective waste management and flood control programs as they grapple with the burden of flooding caused by heavy rainfall and the trough of low-pressure areas.

Photo Courtesy of Bong Sarmiento / Edd Gumban/The Philippine Star / Maria Tan/ABS-CBN News

The Philippines, nestled in the Pacific Ring of Fire, has long faced natural hazards. For decades, Filipinos have demonstrated their endurance and resilience in the face of adversity, making resilience synonymous with the nation. However, with the continuing rise of environmental issues, such as worsening climate conditions, relying solely on Filipinos' resilience is not enough—it demands a more comprehensive approach.

Challenges persist

While previous administrations have proposed protective measures, these projects mainly, if not solely, focus on risk reduction rather than avoidance. Although risk reduction is a reasonable strategy, it has become evident that our current management systems are falling short of providing long-term solutions to the problems at hand.

Filipino commuters and motorists still end up stranded for hours on the road, and according to a recent report by ABS-CBN, even previously flood-free areas such as Skyway now experience flooding due to drainage system problems, worsened by continuous rainfall.

These drainage problems stem from the inefficient action of local government units (LGUs) to replace old and broken drainages in different areas, as well as their failure to address waste mismanagement. After all, LGUs, along with various government institutions, play a critical role in ensuring the implementation of policies and directives assigned to them.

Furthermore, on July 3, the Commission on Audit (COA) called upon the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to address the 33 pending flood control projects, totaling an estimated P825 million. Initially slated for implementation in 2022, these projects were crafted to combat flooding in the metropolis as part of the Metro Manila Flood Management Project Phase 1 (MMFMPP1). However, as of the end of 2022, the COA reported that only four projects were currently underway, while 29 projects were still labeled "for implementation."

In response, the MMDA stated that it has already devised "strategies" to enhance the pace of project implementation starting in 2023 and the coming years.

Philippine Development Plan

In retrospect, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has included in the 2023-2028 Philippine Development Plan (PDP) his administration's plans and strategies to address the slow progress in community resilience, as well as the lack of effective hazardous waste management.

As stated in the PDP, to bolster community resilience and mitigate risks from hazards and climate change, the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan and the Local Climate Change Action Plan shall integrate community programs and projects.

Recognizing the urgency, the president further emphasized the national government's commitment to prioritize highly vulnerable, low-income LGUs' access to national programs and funds for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and disaster preparedness. This encompassing support includes initiatives like flood control, coastal protection, early warning systems, operations centers, permanent evacuation centers, critical infrastructure and facilities, and climate-resilient livelihood programs.

Moreover, a focus on environmental sustainability will be pushed through by encouraging communities to comply with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003). This law mandates LGUs to divert more than 25 percent of solid waste from disposal facilities, and as part of this effort, LGUs are entrusted with expanding waste minimization initiatives.

Creation of water-impounding facilities

Last June, Marcos directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to create a comprehensive plan to prevent flooding in Metro Manila and coastal communities, including ample water-impounding facilities outside Metro Manila. The allocated budget was approximately P351 billion.

"Huwag natin naman sana tinatapon 'yung tubig dahil kailangan na natin iyang tubig na iyan. So, gumagawa rin kami ng paraan para maipon ang tubig. Naghahanap ngayon kami ng mga lugar sa labas ng Maynila kung saan puwedeng maglagay ng mga malaking large na impounding areas," the chief executive said.

The President recently established the Water Resources Management Office (WRMO) under Executive Order 22. The primary role of WRMO is to tackle the fragmented water and sanitation sector, recognizing that the overall social and economic progress of the country is closely tied to its total water resources. It also aims to prevent water crises, mitigate the effects of climate change, address infrastructure deficiencies, and establish consistent regulations that will strengthen the country's water management system.

Aside from this, Marcos aims to continue former President Duterte's projects, one of which is the Integrated Flood Resilience and Adaptation Project. This project aims to assist the government in reducing flood risks and mitigating flood damage in Abra, Ranao, and Tagum-Libuganon, or the three major river basins in the country. Moreover, the project aims to reinforce community-based management measures for enhanced effectiveness.

Efficiency Gap

However, scrutiny arises from the fact that all these current programs, as well as those proposed long before, lack efficiency. Efforts must be swift to keep pace with the ever-changing conditions of the climate. As long as these efforts are not adequately implemented, our roadways and many areas will remain susceptible to flooding, and the nation will continue to struggle.

Prioritizing climate change adaptation, investing in resilient infrastructure, and integrating sustainable practices are crucial to mitigating the impacts of floods and waste mismanagement. Overall, this necessitates enhanced coordination among government agencies, increased transparency, and the participation of Filipinos.

Edited by Xhiela Mie Cruz