MANILA, July 29 (PNA) — It is President Benigno S. Aquino III’s obligation to find a solution to Manila’s flood problem, that is why he mentioned in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) the proposal to build a catchment for floodwaters within the premises of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), a Palace official said Wednesday.
España Boulevard in Manila is prone to flooding, affecting many people who pass the area daily, among them pedestrians, senior citizens, schoolchildren and university students, said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda during a press briefing.
“This is a situation where the interest, the safety of many should prevail over the concerns of, for instance, unfortunately a university. I think you should look at it from that perspective,” Lacierda said.
“Given that the solution is scientifically well-founded and technically proven, why does it not make sense for us or for all those people involved there to join and cooperate with government in building that catchment area?”
In his SONA on Monday, President Aquino said his administration’s strategy is clear — in constructing roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, “we reduce the suffering where we must”.
“Ang panawagan ko nga po, makiambag sana tayong lahat, at maging handang magsakripisyo. Halimbawa: Para matugunan ang madalas na pagbaha sa Maynila, isinulong natin ang pagpapagawa ng catchment area; pero tumutol po dito ang isang malaking unibersidad. May lumang gusali daw kasi silang maaaring tamaan,” he said.
According to UST’s official student publication, The Varsitarian, in 2013, the Department of Public Works and Highway proposed to dig out a retarding tank under UST’s open grounds “to serve as storage for water during heavy rains, to be pumped out to waterways after a downpour”.
The publication further cited the status of UST’s open grounds and certain structures as national cultural treasure, which, according to law, “shall not be relocated, rebuilt, defaced or otherwise changed in a manner, which would destroy the property’s dignity and authenticity, except to save such property from destruction due to natural causes.”
Asked if the government plans to ask UST to reconsider the proposal, Lacierda said it is up to the leadership of the university to study it.
“It’s not too much to ask,” he said. (PNA)