WHILE serving as Chief of Staff and acting administrator of Candaba from 2004 to 2013 under then-Mayor Jerry Pelayo and eventually as disaster risk reduction and management officer, I got familiar with the perennial flooding in Candaba that has once again appeared in the national news. This time no less than President Marcos Jr. is involved.
Adaptation is the thing for the people of Candaba. Houses where the floodwater is usually the deepest like in barangay San Agustin are practically on stilts or their lower floors are built ready for flooding. A standby banca is a common fixture of these houses.
Candaba is the catch basin of floodwater coming from Nueva Ecija and northern Bulacan. Pampanga River which originates from Nueva Ecija and smaller rivers like Maasim River coming from Bulacan are the main sources of floodwater. Clogging of the river outlets going to Manila Bay disrupts the draining of the floodwater.
Three-term former Candaba Mayor and two-time Pampanga Mayors League President Jerry Pelayo has publicly supported President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s proposal to construct a water impounding facility in Candaba as a long-term solution to persistent flooding in Pampanga and Central Luzon.
In a recent interview with broadcaster Ira Panganiban, Pelayo said, “When I was a mayor, I already suggested in a regional development council meeting that a ring dike is needed to collect the rainwater. I’m with the president on this matter. This could also be beneficial for aquaculture, irrigation for farmers, and tourism as well.”
Pelayo, known for his hands-on leadership during his tenure as Candaba Mayor, firmly believes that the proposed water impounding project will not only alleviate the perennial flooding issue but could also boost the local industries and tourism.
The former mayor, however, expressed his disappointment over Congresswoman Ana York Bondoc’s reaction to the proposed solution.
“I am embarrassed about Congresswoman Bondoc’s agitated behavior and she obviously did not understand the national government’s suggestion. Dredging, as the congresswoman suggested, is just a temporary solution and very costly,” Pelayo said. “Her behavior was inciting and very unbecoming of a hospitable Kapampangan.”
Pelayo urged all stakeholders to consider the long-term benefits of the impounding water project over temporary and costly measures. He also called for unity and cooperation among local leaders to closely monitor each LGU’s solid waste management in order to avoid dumping garbage along waterways, and effectively address the recurrent flooding issue in the region.
The former mayor’s endorsement of President Marcos Jr.’s plan underscores his commitment to practical and sustainable solutions to local problems and his belief in the potential of Candaba and the larger Pampanga region.