By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing editor .
FOUR of the six contenders for Cagayan de Oro’s two district representatives in Congress in the May 13 elections shared a common vision for the city in the next three years: a storm drainage master plan to address perennial flooding.
Once in place, it will be the first in four decades.
While responders were on their heels in search, rescue and recovery operations that day in Pampanga and Samar provinces due to the tremors of high magnitudes, disaster preparedness was not mentioned in Tuesday’s candidates forum at Xavier University which Lihuk 2019 Movement organized. The group, Lihuk Igsoon para sa Hiniusang Paglambo sa Katilingban, is a non-partisan group.
Two congressional candidates of the administration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan — Rep. Rolando Uy of the city’s 1st District, and Councilor Yan Lam Lim of the 2nd District — were a no-show. Uy had sent word he would try to catch up at 3 pm but failed while newcomer Lim reportedly claimed that his flight was delayed.
Partido Federal ng Pilipinas’ congressional candidate Rogelio Villazorda Jr., a civil engineer and contractor, introduced the concept of drainage master plan for the city’s second district—all areas on the eastern side of Cagayan River up to Barangay Bugo.
Villazorda said he wants to see a solution to flooding in his district in the next three years, a master plan for main and secondary drainage, since doing so could help ease the flow of vehicular traffic in the city’s most congested commercial area.
This, he said, should be complemented with the construction of flyovers and alternative routes.
Villazorda’s proposal won the support of a relatively strong contender, lawyer Rufus Rodriguez who already served as second district congressman for three consecutive terms — he is seeking the seat again.
“I affirm that flooding is a problem in the second district,” Rodriguez said, and he then vowed he would commission experts to conduct a feasibility study for a comprehensive city-wide drainage system and push for the project’s funding for its implementation.
He also agreed with Villazorda that traffic is among the challenges lawmakers must confront and he would push for funding allocations so that more bypass and coastal roads be opened and extension of the Justiniano R. Borja road on the eastern side.
Rodriguez is seeking a mandate under the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines, a political party he founded, and he is its president.
First district congressional hopefuls Ian Cesar Acenas of Padayon Pilipino, and Gil Banaag of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas both agreed with their counterparts’ priority concerns, particularly on flooding—all areas on the western side of Cagayan River up to Barangay Iponan.
Acenas, who had a 20-year experience in lawmaking as city council member, said a drainage master plan is really necessary not only in the second district but also in the first, adding that dredging of the Iponan River bank be among the priorities as well.
Banaag, a lawyer and certified public accountant who had 17 years exposure to governance as barangay council member, said his district is also prone to flooding because Iponan River cuts across several barangays in the area.
The four congressional hopefuls had the right mindset in putting flooding on top of their bucket list of priorities; even the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has been, for sometime now, been keeping an eye on four river systems and the flood-prone areas in Cagayan de Oro.
These river systems are the Bigaan, Cugman, Umalag and Agusan rivers; Bitan-ag Creek in barangays Lapasan and Camaman-an; Cagayan river which endangers 14 riverside barangays including Macasandig, Nazareth, Carmen, Bayabas, Kauswagan, Consolacion, Bonbon, Puntod and Macabalan; and Iponan river that traverses Bulua, Iponan, Pagatpat, and Baikingon.
The last drainage system the city government had in its business district, specifically Don Apolinar Velez and Justiniano R. Borja streets, including the Golden Friendship Park (Divisoria), was four decades ago, under the World Bank-funded Regional Cities Development Project (RCDP).