Blame Aquino especially for the Laguna and SLEX flooding


I’m serious and I’m not exaggerating. Read on, and you will be convinced that President Aquino is culpable not only for the flooding in Laguna and the South Luzon Expressway but even at least partly, for the worsening flooding in the metropolis.

The worsening of the flooding in Laguna in the past few days, as its governor Emilio Ramon Ejercito himself pointed out the other day, was basically due to the fact that the Laguna de Bay was so much silted that it could not contain the heavy monsoon rainwater. He pointed out that from an average depth of 12 meters “during the time of Jose Rizal”, the lake is now just 2. 5 meters deep.

That the flooding in recent days worsened, reaching even the South Luzon Expressway, even if rainwater actually wasn’t bigger than the comparable volume in 2012 wasn’t really a surprise. The silting of the lake and of the channels gets worse year after year if no efforts are made to dredge these of silt and other sediments.

The role of Laguna Lake in the metropolis’ flooding is something government agencies—especially the MMDA, the DPWH, and the Laguna Lake Development Authority—have known for decades.

Silted lake’s role in metropolis’ and Laguna’s flooding. (Lower inset: SLEX flooded)

Silted lake’s role in metropolis’ and Laguna’s flooding. (Lower inset: SLEX flooded)

Prodded by the devastation of two typhoons hitting the country in the space of a few days in October 2009, President Arroyo rushed a project to address that particular cause of flooding, called the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project. It would involve dredging Laguna Lake so that it could contain more rainwater and the deepening of the 7-kilometer Napindan Chanel in Taytay so that it could better and more quickly draw floodwaters away from the metropolis to the lake.

There was a solution that time to the usual obstacle to all of our infrastructure projects — financing. Like many in the industrialized world, a European country’s policy for stabilizing its economy during that period of global financial crisis was to assist its biggest businesses.

Thus the Belgian government offered to finance the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project’s P19 billion cost, if it were to be undertaken by the Belgian-owned engineering firm Baagerwerken Decloedt En Zoon), a 150-year old firm that specializes in dredging projects in Europe and all over the world. The Belgian government even agreed that one-fourth of the cost would be grant, and the rest an official development assistance loan at concessional rates.

After months of negotiations, everything was set for the project to commence August 2010, to be completed by July 2012. Once hitch though: Aquino won in the June elections.

Mr. Aquino unilaterally cancelled the project. He didn’t even have the courtesy of doing it officially; he merely ordered in August Secretary Cesar Purisima not to sign the official form for the loan to be drawn.

He publicly announced its cancellation only in November, condemning it as “another corrupt” project of his predecessor. He even ridiculed it as a total rip-off “which would have dredged one part of the Laguna lake and then transfer the silt to another part.”

That’s a ridiculous assessment, understandable only because Aquino at that time was delirious that every project proposed by his predecessor was corrupt.

The project very clearly specified that the dredged material would be deposited in designated sites off Taytay-Angono and San Pedro. These sites in fact would become reclaimed land where wastewater treatment facilities would be built.

Seven government departments, agencies and inter-departmental bodies evaluated the project for three years, and endorsed it for immediate implementation in 2010. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in his approval of the project’s foreign funding: “Its purpose is to improve the Lake’s capacity as a catch basin to reduce flooding in nearby towns and cities.”

Mr. Aquino’s Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in her August 2010 legal opinion, found nothing wrong with it: “The project cannot be construed as a midnight deal since it is covered by official development assistance from the Belgian government.” The Laguna Lake Development Authority general manager whom Mr. Aquino appointed supported the project.

The Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme himself appealed to Mr. Aquino not to gullibly believe unfounded claims fed to him. Leterme officially vouched for the project’s integrity, and even submitted to Mr. Aquino an independent evaluation of the project, by the British dredging expert Anthony D Bates Partnership.

“As I understand from the report of this expert, which is enclosed, the project can be an undeniable improvement for the Metro Manila area and alleviate flooding, improve local transport infrastructure and increase water capacity,” Leterme wrote in a letter to Mr. Aquino in March 2011.

Leterme even asked Aquino to meet with his official emissary, who would fly to Manila to explain to him and “to any other party” that the project is not only appropriate but is an ideal and an urgent one for the country. He and the Belgian company even offered to revise any part of the project that is shown to be defective or inappropriate.

Aquino snubbed the Belgian prime minister and the firm’s representatives and didn’t bother replying to them.

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Ecology investigated the allegations against the project, especially those hurled by the leftist organization Pamalakaya, which included a preposterous one that fishermen in the lake would be evicted. The Committee evaluated even the legal and financial aspects of the project and saw nothing wrong in it.

It recommended that Aquino order a green light for the project. If he still has concerns, the committee even recommended a committee to be composed of nine Cabinet members to review the project and propose revisions. (Download Copy of committee’s report.)

Aquino ignored the House Committee’s report and recommendations. A Senate version of the House Committee didn’t pursue its own investigation, on the servile excuse given by its chair Teofisto Guingona III, that the president’s cancellation made it moot and academic.

Did Aquino undertake any project to replace the Belgian one he even referred to as a “joke”?

Nothing. It’s all been blah-blahs, with governor Ejercito the other day vaguely referring to a proposal to build a “mega-dike” around the lake. He said the best solution would be a “Pacific Spillway” that would channel excess lake waters across Quezon province to the Pacific Ocean. He is hallucinating: such a channel have to cut through mountains and would be about 25 kilometers long, three times the length of the Corinth Canal in Greece, which took billions of dollars, at today’s valuation, to build.

Aquino’s cancellation of the Laguna dredging project would haunt us long after his term ends not only because of the floods in Manila and the flooding of Laguna and the SLEX that would worsen every year.

Some P7 billion in taxpayers’ money will be going down the drain if the International Center for Investment Disputes rules that Aquino unfairly cancelled the Belgian firm’s contract. Filed in 2011, the case is likely to be decided this year since all arguments and documents by both parties have been submitted. The Belgian firm is demanding a P6 billion damages, and our government’s legal costs would be in the P1 billion range.

If government loses its case, there must be a way for Aquino alone (or maybe include there his adviser Senator Franklin Drilon, the only other official who claimed the project was graft-ridden) to shoulder this cost, as it was he and he alone who unilaterally cancelled it.

For Filipinos to suffer the floods and pay for the consequences of the boo-boo that prevented the solution to these would be the height of injustice.
Download Copy of committee’s report and


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. Dapat ito si Tiglao,mag rekomenda kung ano ang sulusyon na maibsan ang pagbaha,madaling sabihin na i-dredge dahil silted na at mababaw na ang laguna bay.panahon ni PGMA,nag dredge saan tinambak sa tabi sa loob din ng lawa,1 billion pesos ang ginasto,lumalim nga lumiit naman ang lawa di wala din nangyari,nang tumigas ang putik pinasok ng 450,000 na squatters lahat ng kanilang basura tapon sa lawa,sayang lang ang ginasto.kailangan dyan permanenting sulusyon.

    • Sir ang palce nyo po ba ay along the shore of laguna lake? Sana hindi po
      ng hindi nyo din nararanasan ang na experience namin every rainy season..

  2. Mr. Tiglao, shallow POINT OF VIEW (yes, it is just your own point of view as I see this article politically motivated)

    There is just one question I want Mr. Tiglao to answer, did Pres. Aquino dumped the silt over the course of a century? Think it over again before you write.

    Just because the person didn’t come up with the solution means he is at fault at what other people has been causing.

    • political or not he should have continued the project, it’s his fault why lake shore towns got flooded….
      By the way our subd is located along the shore of laguna lake…

  3. Considering that this piece was written by someone known to be closely associated with the Arroyo administration, one suspects that it might be worth hearing the other side of the story before forming an opinion. That’s always a good idea, but perhaps more than usually good in this case.

    • But he has a point. Remove the name, retain the facts.

      Laguna Bay needs to be desilted.

      Cancelling desilting projects = Increased risk of flooding.

      Engineering FAIL.

  4. Pity to Filipinos for having an irrational president in the person of Mr. PeNoy Aquino who is treating the Philippines as his personal property. He can do whatever he wishes being the president of our republic but he cannot treat the whole Filipino nation as “idiots” like himself. He knows and the Filipino people know also that he is running this administration as a tool of vendetta against GMA. There are other means of venting Penoy’s anger against GMA but not to the extent of making the citizens languish and die due to flooding. GMA and her cohorts were also a bunch of corrupt and greedy stock; but (GMA) approving to dredge Laguna de Bay to alleviate; I said ALLEVIATE; not to eliminate the perennial flooding in the Manila and its surroundings as well the towns circling Laguna de Bay, was a sane decision by a corrupt president. Cancelling the dredging project of Laguna de Bay is INSANE with no alternative plan in place or to mitigate the problem. This is the result of the citizens blindly electing public officials based on MONEY, DYNASTY, POWER and IGNORANCE. At the end of the day, the citizens, who elected him to office, pay the price; OR was he elected by the PCOS machine that were brought in by MONEY and POWER or by the people.

    • Enrique Valdecampos on

      As usual, Ngoyngoy is at his pig-headed best. Apparently, everything done by GMA is wrong. He never even had the decency to propose a substitute project. Magaling talaga.

    • JecNegrete, you are so right in saying that the people who elected BSAquino are paying the price. But you are also making a big mistake in blaming the ELECTORS. The fact is that the mass is frustrated by how the country is being run in the past few decades for worse. I can understand why they will elect a frog over an intellectual who they cannot trust. Enough said.

  5. Wow, ganun pala ang nangyari, inisnub ang Belgian minister…kaya naman pala may pinagmanahan sa pag-snub din sa Polish ambassador Rychtar…

    Siguro, gusto nila start with a NEW project, para makakuha sila ng tongpat…gaya ng ginawa nila sister Ballsy, cousin Lichauco, and her group…

    Yung NORTH RAIL project ni Gloria, nasimulan na, one year na in progress, inihinto din…taga Valenzuela ako, kaya nanghinayang kami sa mahirap na paglilinis at pagpapaalis ng mga squatters along the railroad tracks, ngayon, balik na naman…

    Wala talagang magawang magaling ang isang taong mainggitin…kasi idea at credit ng iba, kaya ayaw…

    Kaso ayaw namang mag-isip ng sarili niyang proyekto, gusto lang palitan mga pangalan nang mga nakatayo na…

    …sana naunawaan ito ng masa…siya nga may kasalanan…! ayyy, si Gloria pala..

    • Nagtataka lang po ako bakit ba galit na galit sya ky GMA? Bakit, sinisi ba ni GMA ang Nanay nya noon? parang wala yata ako narinig na nanisi si GMA sa mga presidenteng nasundan nya, at di ba nabigyan din naman siya ng PDAF ni GMA? sya lang talaga ang presidente na puro paninisisi lang ang alam…yan tuloy kasisisi nya kay GMA buong Luzon binaha dahil wala naman siya nagawang alternative sa project ni GMA.

  6. I know this is just a result of individual unawareness. Bakit isisi niyo sa pangulo ang ginagawa niyo. Dispose your garbage properly para walang babara sa mga estiro niyo. Pati pa ba yan si aquino pa sumunod sa mga obligasyon niyo? Kahit aning drainage system yan gagawin kung tambakan lang ng basura babaha pa rin yan.

    • Pare, kahit maging malinis ang lahat ng estero kung silted na ang laguna de bay, babaha pa rin. Malalim na ang burak sa laguna de bay kaya dapat na itong i-dredge. hindi biased ang article na ito kahit si tiglao pa ang nagsulat. factual ito at least for the technical issue on solving the flood concern by dredging. ang nakakainis dito is that no alternative solution was offered by this new government. okay kung ikinansela niya ang dredging fro alleged ‘corruption’ issues pero ano ang alternative? it’s the general mitigation of floodwaters that is the subject here not just the cause as you try to point out(i.e. trash on bodies of water)…iyung mga palaisdaan din diyan sa laguna de bay are causing silting dahil sa mga dumi na dulot nito(unused feeds, dumi ng isda,etc..)…peace.

    • Tama ka jedd bautista…alang ini offer na solutiion, naging reactive lang sila after nung flood saka nya ini announce yung mega ring dike, for approval pa lang ang designs at bago pa ma implement oo long term yun pero they should have at least a short term solution to alleviate the flooding before their project is finish…i live here in laguna along the shore of laguna lake..

  7. Edmund King D. De Joya on

    ano ba talaga mga magagaling kuno ang solusyon? nakakalito na sino ba ang nagsasabi ng totoo? What now?

  8. Like his mother all the projects of former president are graft ridden that’s why they cancelled it. Wala talagang gustong gawin si pinoy sa ikakaunlad ng pinas puro knee jerk reaction lang.Mga taga Laguna at bulacan ibinoto nyo si pinoy kaya magdusa kayo.

  9. Government must open a new Agency which task to do the City and National Planning members are work to identify the proper system which to be placed. Like Roads, Factories, Housing, Agri, and many more Epza. They are planner not implementer. National planning Authority, study city, nation demography and planning.

  10. I believe that every government projects was proposed for the good of the our country. What they have to do is remove the corruption implemented on this project and see to it that the project is done as per the plan & procedure. Compensation for the works done is right, best work entitles bonuses, but demanding for more is greediness. Only a man with the right mind can do it.

  11. There is a lack of continuity in government policies because we operate on politics of personality. What we need is to institutionalize an authentic political party system so there will be a clear definition between party platforms.

    There will be continuance in government projects even if the politician who initiated the project/program is no longer incumbent.

    Political parties would ensure that the government policies would be congruent with party platforms.

  12. Somebody has to start documenting these atrocities on all of us due to the criminal negligence of this man. He has to be held to account for all the loss of lives and properties the moment he losses his imunity

  13. what can we expect from a president who cannot even make his relationships work… how much more a gargantuan national problems for him to take…. that’s way too much for his too little IQ to comprehend.

  14. PNoy is so consumed by vendetta that he feeds his ego first before thinking of the consequences. Just an hour ago he announced that he will change the manner of PDAF disbursement, euphemism for pork abolition, but days before that he said he is cool to scrapping it. I doubt if this president thinks with his brain or with his foot.

    • He thinks with his mouth. I don’t have trust with people who speak too fast, in the end they remember nothing of what they said.

  15. even if laguna de bay be drenched of silt, the flooding won’t be solved because metro manila geographically lies about 1.5 meters above sea level.. because water runs down due to gravity, even the unobstructive rivers and water channels won’t stop the water from accumulating. reforestry of the mountains around the city will eventually minimise or stop flooding

    • Most of Netherlands lie below sea level. A good portion of it is reclaimed by constructing dikes into the North Sea then drain the water out of the diked portion. How the Dutch keep themselves dry since that great flood (was it in the 50’s?) when one of these dikes broke is engineering marvel. They call it the Delta project, it is the triumph of human common sense trained to do good. One trait which is very much absent in this species of orangutangs (in coat and ties or barong tagalogs) that populated Malacanang and both houses of congress nowadays.

    • I agree that the dredging will not solve the problem. Unless you great an empty basin that can be filled with the excess water from the metropolitan area during a super rain storm, dredging will not work. The bay will always seek its natural level so dredging will not help when the need for more space for the excess water is needed. That’s just logical! So Pnoy is not to blame, I agree Arroyos plan is the one that was not going to help alleviate that problem. It’s purpose though was to get rid of the silt and garbage that has over the last century was accumulated in the Bay! So dredging is good but not going to be of significant help with the flooding problem.

    • You sound like pnoy who thinks he knows better than all the nameless people who made the technical study before this project was recommended for implementation. Be careful, little knowledge is dangerous.

  16. Another masterpiece from Mr. Tiglao. A great service to our country! Mr. Tigalo, please continue with your crusade. The people are hungry for informatiion about what is really happening our country.

  17. This government is likely to lose that Belgian case. Unlike the NAIA 3 case, Fraport, which filed the cases at ICSID and ICC cannot make heads or tails with its cases because it too was tainted with corruption; you cannot say that with this dredging contract and the Belgian government. It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ we will be ordered to pay up the Belgians. It could be in 2016 when this president steps down at which time we can also assess what he really accomplished in all that six years of showbiz and yellow-media-driven rule.

  18. Aquino was right to stop the dredging. It would not have solved Manila’s flooding. A canal needs to be dug between Laguna Lake and Manila Bay. Taguig City/ airport maybe be the best route. Install flood gates on the canal so the level of Laguna Lake can be controlled. End of problem!

    • have you heard of the napindan channel and maggahan flood gates? these two are already functioning what you were mentioning, napindan and manggahan waterways leads to pasig river than to manila bay.

    • What is your basis on the presumption that dredging laguna bay is not the solution to the flood problem. Are you an Urban planner, a consultant, an Engineer of high caliber who done a case study on this flooding problem.

    • observant nobody on

      you do realise that laguna lake is fresh water?
      connecting it to the ocean would turn the whole lake into salt water, destroying its current eco system. Not to mention all the ricefields along the lake etc.

      Not sure if it is a smart idea to destroy one of the biggest fresh water reservoirs of the country.. we might need it some day.

      Deepening Laguna Lake would of course improve the situation drastically, and seems to be part of the solution! Without a doubt, it would need several additional steps in order to fully tackle the problem in Manila. Declogging of the drainage system, eviction of squatters, etc.

    • Hmm… Your opinion against a company that has been doing this for over 150 years, backed by the EU and the Belgian Prime Minister… Sorry dude! I’ll stick with EXPERT advice.

    • then why did bs aquino not implement it? it would have endeared him to the people of laguna. he scrapped the project based on perceived and unfounded corruption but did not offer an alternative to replace it. i bet he’ll finish his term without accomplishing any meaningful infrastructure project.

    • I took a look at a map of rizal and tried to figure out where the “canal” between laguna de bay and manila bay could be built. that canal would have to cut through major roads and highly populated areas. ejercito’s proposed project is to dig a spillway from laguna de bay and the pacific ocean… come on! dredging the lake would have made more sense. fyi, there are flood gated already installed in pasig (C6) but those did not stop the flooding in the said area. in 2012, a subdivision in the area was submerged in flood water for more than a month – and it was right smack in the area where the flood gates were installed.

  19. This story brings back the memory of when the late ex President Corazon Aquino took over the Presidency. The first things she did was to destroy all projects of the previous government, be it good or bad. Result: the decline of the country’s economy. Sadly, the Aquinos’ main objective in running the country seems to dominate their own personal objective: VENDETTA.

  20. Jose A. Oliveros on

    PeNoy is just like his mother. To Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, every project of FM and Imelda was bad and should not be continued. Listening to her leftist advisers, she scuttled the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant but she did not have any energy program. Result – 8 hour blackout during her term. That school for aspiring artists in Makiling was allowed to rot all because that was an Imelda project.
    Now, here comes the son, PeNoy, blaming everything on his predecessor – GMA because he had no definite program of government in mind when he ran. So everytime he cannot solve any problem, he always blame GMA for it.

  21. Does Penoy have the option to reconsider the project at this time? Will the Belgian government forgive a repentant knucklehead? God bless the Philippines!

  22. A person who keeps on hating will be going crazy. This is the mindset of Mr. BS Aquino. Because of hatred towards Gloria Arroyo and sundry, PNoy cannot think straight. For sure and as what he already did, he is always looking for scapegoats to pass the blame of his incompetence. Let us leave Lolong Frank Drilon and Lolong Teofesto Guingona III, they are already so think skinned they do not care what others may think of them provided they keep on licking the a___s of any person in government who is in power.

  23. I beg to disagree, Mr. Tiglao. No, the flooding can never be blamed on BS Aquino, no way. Don’t you know that the chap has been doing a great job as president of this country since Day 1? Look, he handled the Luneta crisis just fine; no superlatives can describe his topnotch performance re: the Sabah crisis; he was a ‘touch on’ leader during calamities like Sendong, etc. Why blame BS Aquino, sir? You’re out of line!

    For your information, the one to blame for the present flooding is no other than the poor little lady named GMA. Oooppsss, now I’m sounding just like BS Aquino…blaming everyone else except himself !!!

    • haha, he can never be at fault because an intelligent public put him up there….

      ayyy ( sarcasm may be is the lowest form of wit but I’m sure there’d be many who will not get this! )