Informal settlers along the Pasig, Marikina and Tullahan rivers are turning out to be the most pampered residents of Metro Manila. Besides the periodic conditional cash grants they get from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and free services from the barangay health center, the government just spent $5.2 million to buy high-tech equipment from South Korea that will alert them in advance of dangerous floodwater during storms.
The equipment is intended for the Automation of Flood Early Warning System for Disaster Mitigation in Greater Metro Manila project of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency.
Roy Badilla, chief of PAGASA’s Hydro-meteorology Division, said 100 automated early warning systems were set up along the river and each station is equipped with automatic rain gauges, warning posts, CCTV, software and wireless networking that can detect rainfall volume and predict the time it will reach certain areas.
Taytay Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office’s Engr. Elmer Espiritu said they need the expensive early warning system so that they can evacuate informal settlers before the river swells and prevent people from being washed away.
The high-tech equipment becomes the poor settlers’ fanciest outdoor gadget after their cable TV antenna.