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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Claim on Cory Aquino scrapping Marcos-era floodway NEEDS CONTEXT

As typhoons submerged parts of Luzon in floodwater in November, an infographic circulated on Facebook (FB) pointing out that the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino had mothballed a flood control project of her predecessor Ferdinand Marcos. This lacks context.

Dec 9, 2020

VERA Files

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As typhoons submerged parts of Luzon in floodwater in November, an infographic circulated on Facebook (FB) pointing out that the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino had mothballed a flood control project of her predecessor Ferdinand Marcos. This lacks context.

Part of the infographic’s text read: “the spillway from Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay, in case the lake overflowed in a massive flood – was one of the many projects with the name ‘Marcos’ attached to it, that were scrapped by Cory Aquino.”

The post, published by several FB users from Nov. 15 to 22, gives an incomplete picture of the reason behind the project’s scrapping.

Known as the Parañaque spillway, the project was shelved due to budget concerns, as stated in a 2009 government document, a 2017 study on flood intensity in the Philippines, and a 2009 Senate hearing to revive the spillway project.

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA)’s 2009 report called the Laguna de Bay Environment Monitor said:

“In the 1970’s, the Philippine Government started constructing the flood control projects with the main purpose of preventing flooding in Metro Manila. This project is composed of four components: the Manggahan Floodway; the CAMANAVA flood control project; the lakeshore dike; and the Paranaque spillway.

Of all these, only the Paranaque spillway was not realized as it was deferred due to lack of funds.”

Based on Marcos’ Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 475 issued in 1974, the Paranaque Spillway had a budget of P62 million. Under P.D. 1062. two years later, it was increased to P188 million.

According to a 2017 study by two researchers from Nagoya University in Japan, the construction costs for three big projects under Marcos’ flood control initiative—the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure, Manggahan floodway and Paranaque spillway—reached P962.9 million and the government resorted to foreign loans to sustain the infrastructure-building.

However, only the Napindan and Manggahan structures were constructed, in 1983 and 1986 respectively, while the Paranaque spillway failed to materialize because of “financial constraints,” said the researchers.

In a 2010 The Philippine Star report, urban planner and architect Felino Palafox Jr., who was among those who proposed the Paranaque spillway under Marcos’ term,also said budget and time concerns prevented construction of the project. Then-Paranaque Rep. Roilo Golez was also quoted saying “the plans of the proposed Parañaque spillway was kept in archives because of the amount involved.”

In a Senate hearing on climate change in 2009, former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) assistant secretary Dimas Soguilon told then-Senate Minority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri that costs and right of way issues hounded the spillway project.

After typhoon Ondoy (International name: Ketsana) brought massive flooding in Metro Manila in 2009, Zubiri lobbied to revisit building the mothballed spillway based on the Marcos-era flood control plan.

Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo greenlighted the Parañaque spillway project, which also did not materialize. At the time, a 2009 Manila Bulletin article said lawmakers reportedly allocated P5-10 billion for the project, while a story by the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted its cost at around 20 billion.

In 2012 under the next administration, the LLDA proposed that the project be carried out under a modified design due to urban buildup at the proposed area. However, DPWH officials then said the project was not feasible anymore due to right-of-way issues and its price tag.

The inaccurate FB posts about the spillway cited as their source an article on the blog Kahimyang (kahimyang.com).

The misleading claims emerged days after Sen. Imee Marcos called for the building of infrastructure, including the Parañaque Spillway, to prevent a repeat of the massive floods in Metro Manila, Rizal and other areas triggered by Typhoon Ulysses.

The posts needing context were published by FB page Anti-Hepa PH – Leni’s Boletproof and Bagong Lipunan, and netizens in public FB groups Walang Bahid Dilaw Movement and Justice for Marcos. They have collectively been shared over 1,300 times.

Justice for Marcos and Bagong Lipunan were created in June and December 2014, respectively. Walang Bahid Dilaw Movement was created in September 2017, while Anti-Hepa PH – Leni’s Boletproof was made in October 2019.


(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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