Flooding as an election issue

By June 29, 2021Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


IT looks like the 2019 election campaign of Mayor Brian Lim is going to boomerang in 2022.

He urged voters to vote then for him if they want to stop the flooding in their streets and homes by changing the mayor (then re-electionist Belen Fernandez).

Methinks, he regrets having used that in the campaign narrative for his election.

About 75% of the city already goes under with at least 2 feet deep of flood water with just the monthly occurrence of high tide – no typhoon, no monsoon rains. Is this something that could have been avoided if not mitigated by deliberate political action? Yes, it can.

In fact, what the city is experiencing is a direct result of the policy of the Lim administration that encourages residents to flout the law, particularly the ban vs. illegal fish pens with no correctional or mitigating measures adopted.

There have been a 1,000% increase in the number of illegal fish pens in the city since he assumed office. Their unregulated operations resulted in worse siltation of our riverbeds. With no daily and constant dredging of the city’s rivers, the daily stocks of commercial feeds thrown into the rivers to feed fishes fenced off by nets, the city stands no chance against high tide alone.

The shallow river channels, compounded by the encroachment and illegal landfill of riversides by “untouchable prominent affluent families” resulted in narrower channel and shallower level of the river bed.

Translation: Since water seeks its own level and silted narrow river channels cannot accommodate rising water, the excess water will have no recourse but to flow inland. Perennial flooding during high tide becomes the norm.

So, when monsoon rains drop, expect major flooding that traps people into helplessness for days and weeks.

Just wondering if the Anti-Flooding Commission created by Mayor Brian was aware of these natural reactions of water to negligence and corruption, and did nothing.

Worse, did the Dagupan City Council also know this but did nothing to stop the daily abuses committed in the city’s rivers, tolerated by the city hall?

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BIKE AND RUN. The seemingly divided house at the Dagupan Sangguniang Panlungsod whether to pass an ordinance about the use of the De Venecia Highway Extension exclusively for the “Bike and Run” Sunday affair not only reflects the ignorance of some members of legal accountability of the city over the use of government-owned infrastructures but also lack of vision for the safety of growing biking and jogging community in the city and neighboring towns.

 Firstly, Councilor Jose Tamayo is right. There must be a legal basis for the closure of any highway for a regular event. Its use must be rationalized for a purpose other than what it was constructed for.

 Secondly, the ordinance has to identify an organization that will be accountable and responsible for the management of the area to ensure that all legal rules are enforced. Without it, the proper use of the road cannot be assured.

 Thirdly, the ordinance should indemnify the designated organization tasked with managing the area from damages suffered from accidents during the event.

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SAFETY ORDINANCE. An equally important and urgent city ordinance that needs to be passed should state:

1) The obligation of the city government to identify and mark bicycle lanes on major city roads and streets.

2) Requirement of head gears to be worn when traversing main roads in the city.

3) Minimum age for bikers that can use city’s main roads.

4) Penalties for bikers that don’t use biker’s lane, enter one-way streets, no head gear, peloton racing on main roads.

These are needed to ensure safety of bikers and motorists in the city.

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NO CHOICE. Two months ago, I have opted not to be vaccinated right away, and decided to wait for the results of the 2nd clinical trial of the vaccines before I take the jab.

But since the results are not forthcoming anytime soon and the threat of the deadly Delta variant is real, I will no longer wait. I have decided to get my vaccine this week.  I can’t risk any longer being infected and possibly being a carrier of a deadly variant.

I can only thank God that he has given me a strong immune system that kept me away from possible infection since the pandemic started. (I had tested ‘false’ positive in a PCR test more than a month ago. I said “false” because I didn’t have any of the COVID symptoms before, during and after a strict 24-day quarantine. I strongly suspect my “positive” had something to do with my home-care treatment for my rhinitis that involved pumping a solution inside my nose before I took the test).

So Sinovac, hit me!

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BAD BUSINESS FOR BUSES. It is not likely that we will soon see Victory Liner, Five Star, Dagupan Bus, Solid North and First North Luzon Transit buses taking off from their terminals in Pangasinan for daily trips to Bulacan, yes, in Bocaue, not to their terminals in Quezon City, Pasay City or Manila.

The reason is not about absence of permits because they have been issued their permits to operate. It’s about viability of operations given a shorter route, 50% occupancy max, point-to-point run (NO pick-up of passengers along the route) while making terminals and bus operations fully staffed.

Those are the obvious first points of resistance of bus companies.

The second would be the resistance of passengers to be off-loaded in Bulacan for a transfer ride to Metro Manila. The choice offered by vans for non-stop travel 3 ½ hours to-and-from Metro Manila will be preferred than what the buses can offer – longer travel time and hassle of transferring to another bus.

Perhaps an option open to the buses is a charter operation that doesn’t have fixed travel schedule, doesn’t issue tickets to passengers but brings its passengers directly to their terminals or tourist destinations. It’s how tourist buses used to operate in the past.

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FALSE PROTECTION. The observation of Board Member Jeremy Agerico Rosario about added requirements imposed on travelers and visitors by town/city governments from Metro Manila entering Pangasinan in addition to the S-Pass should, indeed, be looked into.    

If the local governments trust their employed mechanisms to check the Covid contagion, there is no reason to make things difficult to help restart their local economy. The strict enforcement of the twin health and safety protocol should be enough to protect locals and visitors alike.  

Besides, requiring a PCR test before entering any of the 5 towns and 1 city when others don’t require it no longer stands logic. And if the test will have to be administered by any of the 6, then one cannot but suspect it is a “fund-raining”.  

Besides, while the additional swab test is required only from Metro-Manila travelers to protect the locals, an infected local traveler can do more harm if the wearing of masks is not strictly enforced on ALL!

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RIP RAFFY. This corner joins Pangasinenses in mourning the death of a man who dutifully served the province without reservations – Raffy Baraan.

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