Brutal

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Ernesto F. Herrera

Ernesto F. Herrera

I’m sure you have your own horror stories about getting caught in heavy flooding last Sunday evening.

I know of a family who just heard mass in Malate Church and by the time the mass was over all the roads leading to their apartment, which was just a couple of blocks away, were already flooded at least knee-deep, some even waist-deep.

From Remedios Street, there was nowhere to go, and so they sought refuge in a nearby motel in Adriatico Street. The motel was packed with other stranded commuters and motorists.

Imagine, being so close to your home and yet so far.

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Indeed, we have never seen such heavy flooding in Remedios, Nakpil, Malvar and other streets in Malate, not even during Ondoy. And this phenomenon is replicated in many parts of the metropolis.

Before, only the heaviest rains from strong storms triggered flooding, whereas nowadays even regular monsoons rains and intermittent rains can cause havoc on our roads and streets, making them impassable.

Our floods today are the worst in decades, taking a considerable number of lives and causing extensive damage to our cities and provinces.

We are very much troubled that this flooding could get worse, which is why the government must offer both long-term and short-term solutions, and the people must do their part.

We know there is a massive, multiyear and multi-billion flood-control program that the Aquino administration said would be completed in 2035, but this is too long and we simply can’t ‘grin and bear it’ for a very long meantime (22 years!).

This is the 21st century! You mean to tell us that even with the current technologies and innovations we can’t fast-track critical infrastructure like flood control?

Passing the buck to successive administrations is unacceptable, especially after revelations that so much had already been lost to corruption and non-existent projects funded by pork barrel. No wonder we are in so much trouble.

Metro Manila’s flood problem could be solved much sooner. Sure, it is not an overnight solution, but it is not like this problem hasn’t persisted for so long already. It’s not like we don’t already know that our drainage and other waterways are clogged with trash, squatters and subdivisions that should never have been built.

Surely, with political will and a properly allocated and spent budget the government could minimize adverse flooding a lot sooner.

If you are a dutiful taxpayer, it is really frustrating when you get caught in the middle of a flood like last Sunday. Amidst the chaos and the helplessness, you wonder if there is really a government that looks after you or cares about you. You wonder about where your taxes really go. You curse the greed and the corruption, the Napoleses and the corrupt senators and congressmen who are pocketing the money you pay to government. You want to move to another country and renounce your citizenship.

Flood-induced delays in oil deliveries

More and heavier rains are expected, says Pagasa as we are just halfway through the typhoon season.

An average of about 20 storms hit the Philippines every year and experts agree that massive floods punctuated by intense typhoons would be the norm in the country.

Rain-driven massive floods also disrupt fuel deliveries.

When large parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces go under water, oil trucks and tankers have a hard time making deliveries from suppliers to gas stations. The rains and floods cause havoc on fuel deliveries.

Gas stations normally stock fuel for eight days but at times inventory dwindles because trucks have trouble delivering fuel because of the floods.

This is really the problem when you rely on trucks to deliver fuel from oil depots to gas stations.

I believe it’s about time the Supreme Court rules in favor of reopening the 117-kilometer Batangas to Manila white oil pipeline, operated by the First Philippine Industrial Corporation, which supplies more than 50 percent of the petroleum products for Pandacan, the largest and most important depot in the country.

The Pandacan depot supplies fuel to 459 stations in Metro Manila and about 1,800 gas stations in Regions 1 to 4. On a nationwide basis, the Pandacan depot also supplies 70 percent of the shipping industry’s needs; 90 percent of lubricant requirements; 75 percent of all aviation fuel needs; and 25 percent of the demand for chemicals.

As such, prior to its closure because of the SC’s writ of kalikasan, the Batangas to Manila pipeline was considered Metro Manila’s energy lifeline, supplying to critical industries like transport, construction, food manufacturing, rice and sugar mills, mining and power generation.

A pipeline is not affected by weather disturbances like typhoons and floods. It helps reduce traffic congestion.

The Department of Energy had earlier recommended the reopening of the pipeline after pressure controlled tests confirmed its structural integrity.

Let’s use the pipeline rather than having all these trucks and oil tankers stuck in floods. This will also ease our traffic woes and lessen the considerable number of accidents involving trucks.

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