Monday, August 13, 2012

DPWH allots P840 million vs Pampanga lahar threat

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines – Concerns that re-mobilized lahar deposits along the Pasig-Potrero River could bury the towns of Minalin and Sto. Tomas in this province have prompted the government to allocate P840 million for engineering interventions to prevent such a scenario. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) announced last Friday the allocation for the rehabilitation of a destroyed tail dike along the Pasig-Potrero lahar channel. The fund would be used to repair dikes and other similar structures within the U-shaped anti-lahar megadike, affected by the two-week heavy rains dumped by typhoon “Gener” and the southwest monsoon. DPWH regional director Antonio Molano said the projects will include the immediate closure of the two breached portions of the tail dike; the re-channeling of the waterway from Gugu Creek down to the San Francisco and Labuan rivers; and the rehabilitation of two spillways in the western portion and the center of the transverse dike, also along Pasig-Potrero. Molano cited the need to dredge the Pasig-Potrero from the upper portion of the transverse dike in Barangay Maliwalu this city. Earlier, San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez had warned that millions of tons of lahar debris from Mt. Pinabuto’s eruption in 1991 was being re-mobilized along the Pasig-Potrero during the recent monsoon rains. The lahar deposits damaged the transverse dike and the tail dike within the megadike and created two new channels that flowed toward Minalin and Sto. Tomas. “What happened to Bacolor town could happen to Minalin and Sto. Tomas unless engineering interventions are undertaken,” he said. He was referring to the lahar rampage that buried almost the entire town of Bacolor after the Pinatubo eruption. Yesterday, Rodriguez issued a bulletin denying reports that lahar deposits from the Pasig-Potrero was flowing toward this city, as some residents have reportedly fled to other towns. In a statement, Gov. Lilia Pineda said, “This serious flooding and heavy siltation caused by these breaches, if unabated, will also affect the MacArthur Highway, including a portion of the North Luzon Expressway between San Fernando and San Simon.” - By Ding Cervantes