August 17, 2007
MIRIAM SCORES MAYORS FOR CHRONIC FLOOD PROBLEMS IN METRO MANILA
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago today said Metro Manila mayors must explain to the public "what they have done and what they are doing to solve the problem of flooding in Metro Manila."
The latest typhoon to hit the country, typhoon "Egay" caused floods in Metro Manila this week, with water in some parts of the metropolis rising waist-high. The floods stranded thousands of commuters and paralyzed motorists in major parts of Metro Manila due to heavy traffic.
Weather specialists at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) blamed garbage clogging drainage systems for widespread flooding whenever it rains heavily in Metro Manila.
"Under the Local Government Code, local government units are duty-bound to promote the health and safety and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants," Santiago said.
"The Code specifically vests in LGUs powers, functions, and responsibilities as are necessary, appropriate, or incidental to efficient and effective provision of basic services and facilities, such as a solid waste disposal system and infrastructure facilities for drainage, sewerage, and flood control," Santiago said.
"The mayors, as the chief executives of Metro Manila LGUs, are mandated to exercise general supervision and control over all programs, projects, services, and activities of the LGUs," the feisty senator said. "The mayors are primarily responsible for proper garbage disposal and flood control in their respective LGUs."
The following are the incumbent mayors of Metro Manila LGUs:
1. Mayor Benjamin C. Abalos Jr. - Mandaluyong City
2. Mayor Vergel A. Aguilar - Las Piñas City
3. Mayor Alfredo S. Lim - Manila
4. Mayor Feliciano Belmonte - Quezon City
5. Mayor Jejomar Binay - Makati City
6. Mayor Jaime C. Medina - Municipality of Pateros
7. Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian - Valenzuela City
8. Mayor JV Ejercito - San Juan
9. Mayor Robert C. Eusebio - Pasig City
10. Mayor Aldrin L. San Pedro - Muntinlupa City
11. Mayor Ma. Lourdes Fernando - Marikina City
12. Mayor Enrico R. Echiverri - Caloocan City
13. Mayor Florencio M. Bernabe Jr. - Parañaque City
14. Mayor Tobias Tiangco - Municipality of Navotas
15. Mayor Sigfredo Tinga - Municipality of Taguig
16. Mayor Wenceslao B. Trinidad - Pasay City
17. Mayor Canuto S. Oreta - Malabon City
Santiago said that officials of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) must also explain to the public the measures they have taken to solve the problem of floods in Metro Manila.
"Under Republic Act No. 7924, the MMDA has jurisdiction over services which have metro-wide impact and transcend legal political boundaries or entail huge expenditures such that it would not be viable for said services to be provided by the individual LGUs comprising Metro Manila," the senator said. "These services include solid waste disposal and management, drainage and sewerage system, and flood control."
"Although the Supreme Court has ruled in its 10 August 2007 decision in Filinvest Land, Inc. v. Flood-Affected Homeowners of Meritville Alliance that it is the local government that has the duty to control the flood in a residential area, MMDA officials must also enlighten the public regarding its flood control measures, consistent with the principles of accountability of public officers and good governance," Santiago explained.
"Floods due to heavy rains and typhoons have been a persistent problem in Metro Manila. These floods cause safety hazards and inconvenience to commuters, motorists, and residents of flood-prone areas, and damage to property," Santiago said. "Floodwaters are also a breeding ground for diseases which endanger the health of the public, especially children."
"Despite their mandate under the law to provide efficient and effective programs and mechanisms for solid waste disposal, sewerage system, and flood control, it appears that no visible and effective efforts have been taken by the mayors to solve the problem of flooding in Metro Manila," Santiago fumed.
According to the senator, she will file a resolution when Senate sessions resume on Tuesday, 21 August 2007, to conduct an investigation on the liability of the public officials which are primarily responsible for flood control in Metro Manila.
"The liable officials will be referred to the Ombudsman for criminal prosecution and possible suspension and eventual removal from public office," Santiago said.
"Under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, a public officer that causes any undue injury to any party through gross inexcusable negligence is guilty of corruption," she said.
"In the 1989 Supreme Court decision in Alejandro v. People, gross inexcusable negligence was defined as negligence characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences in so far as other persons may be affected," Santiago explained.
"The mayors may be guilty of gross inexcusable negligence in so far as their inability to provide measures for controlling and preventing floods in their area," she said.
"Further, the Local Government Code provides that gross negligence or dereliction of duty is a ground for disciplinary action. The elective local official concerned may be disciplined, suspended, or removed from office upon that ground," she added.