Blame game: Cayetano points to MMDA for metro floods

Jonathan de Santos
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Flooding in Taguig City and other parts of Metro Manila were not man-made, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said Wednesday.

Rather, floods were caused by the Metro Manila Development Authority for delaying the purchase of gasoline for its flood pumps, he said.

In a privilege speech, Cayetano said MMDA's Hagonoy and Labasan pumping stations asked for 28,000 liters of fuel each on July 28 in anticipation of the rainy season but it took 21 days to approve the requests, and six days to deliver the fuel, he said. By the time the fuel arrived, parts of Metro Manila were already submerged. The senator added that the Taguig Wawa pumping station asked for 38,000 liters of gasoline as early as July 16 but the request was only approved on August 8.

"The supplier only delivered 10,000 liters of gas on August 8. No report has been made as to whether the balance of 18,000 was delivered," Cayetano said, adding the Taguig City government had to give 2,500 liters of fuel to help keep the pumping stations running.

In a slideshow presentation he used in his speech, Cayetano showed a copy of a letter from Michael Doce, then chief of the MMDA Pumping Stations and Floodgates Division, to Edenison Fainsan, MMDA assistant general manager for finance and administration. In it, Doce referred to "delays and shortages" of fuel because the supplier did not complete the order.

Doce said the fuel was supposed to be delivered within two days of purchase, and instead the supplier "gave different alibis for their failure to deliver the remaining balance." He also said the supplier had been complaining of "swelling collectibles" that the MMDA has yet to settle.

The Hagonoy and Labasan pumping stations stopped operating on August 8 after running out of fuel, while the Taguig Wawa station failed because the stations were supposed to operate simultaneously, Cayetano said.

He said that if the flooding had been confined to Taguig, he would have let the city mayor--his wife, Laarni--handle it.

"Kung totoong mahigit P200 million ang nasira sa Taguig dahil sa kapabayaan ng MMDA, pwede bang tingnan kung bakit?," he added as he called for an investigation into the failure of the flood pumps.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino could not be reached for comment, but he already suspended Baltazar Melgar, head of the MMDA Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office. He said Melgar ordered fuel too late despite Tolentino already authorizing the purchase.

Also put on "floating" status were Doce, and engineers Glen Miranda, Peter Macabenta, and Alfonso Oliver, who were in charge of the pumping stations.