• MMDA hunts ‘estero’ gang; studies proposal on flooding

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    THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has intensified its campaign to crack the so-called estero gang that is also being blamed for the widespread flooding in the metropolis.

    MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency’s 50-man Rescue Battalion will be deployed in flood-prone areas in Metro Manila to be on guard against the “estero gang.”

    Tolentino’s move came after MMDA personnel discovered that scrupulous individuals tagged as “estero gang” intentionally blocking waterways to cause flooding.

    MMDA Assistant General Manager for Operation Atty. Emerson Carlos said members of the “estero gang” then use the opportunity to earn a living out of flood.

    “Pinagkakakitaan nila ang baha, ang iba naglalagay ng mga bangketo para madaanan ng ating mga kababayan at sinisingil nila ang mga ito [They are earning money from flood, they place a wooden bridge and allow people to pass in exchange for a sum of money],” he added.

    Carlos said that, they discovered the modus operandi during the widespread flooding last week when manhole and waterways were intentionally blocked at the eight of heavy rains.

    “We deployed our men just to observe, and they found out how they [estero gang]work,” he added.

    Tolentino said they will deploy Rescue Battalion personnel in areas where there is massive flooding to prevent “estero gang” from preying on the public.

    Meanwhile, Tolentino said they are now studying the proposal of Dutch experts from the World Bank srecommending the conversion of antiquated diesel-driven pumps at several pumping stations to electric powered ones to increase their capability especially during heavy downpour.

    He said that, the recommendation of the said experts is now in his office adding that replacing the diesel pumps is also in line with the agency’s efforts to further upgrade their capability.

    The MMDA chief said the government did not pay a single centavo to the experts for the conduct of the study as it was provided by the World Bank adding that when it came to flooding and related measures, the Dutch are experts on the matter.

    Some of the said pumping stations were constructed in the 1970s and their diesel-driven pumping machines are now considered obsolete, especially since it could not cope with heavy volume of water like the one brought by the southwest monsoon and Typhoons Ondoy and Gener in 2009.

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