Pasig River Dredging Project
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MANILA — The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has rejected charges that the Pasig River Dredging Project (PDRP) undertaken by a Belgian firm and completed two years ago did not collect enough silt to deepen the river.

IHO, organized in 1970, is based in Monaco and has 80 member-states, including the Philippines.

The group has dismissed the claims of critics that the Belgian company, Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon (BDC), was only interested in dredging and simply dumping the silt.[box type=”default” size=”large”] Organization says company surpassed global standards [/box]This was the main argument of President Aquino in rejecting the P18.7-billion Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project (LLRP) that BDC was supposed to implement in 750 days after the contract was approved and declared by the Department of Justice (DoJ) thrice as legal, aboveboard and constitutional.

Belgium was the president of the European Union (EU) when Aquino ordered the contract scrapped.

The last DoJ chief to reaffirm the validity of the BDC contract was Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, but Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima scrapped it altogether on orders of Aquino.

It was the first contract of a foreign firm that Aquino had voided, believing it to be a “midnight deal” of the Arroyo administration since it was approved in February 2010, three months before the presidential elections.

IHO’s assessment not only rebutted the claim of Aquino but also showed that its BDC’s work in the Pasig River “even exceeded” international standards.

“The Republic of the Philippines is a member state of the IHO. As a consequence, it recognizes the standards defined by the IHO,” the group said.

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It said the BDC project was assessed based on the “IHO Standards for Hydrographic Surveys, 4th edition, April 1998, Special Publication No. 44,” which provides a set of standards for the execution of hydrographic surveys.

“For each type of area, the IHO specifies the minimum required accuracies both in horizontal and vertical directions,” IHO said.

“Dredging works in general as executed on the Pasig River are associated with the Special Order Standards,” it noted.

“The area of Special Order is defined as ‘harbors, berthing areas, and associated critical channels with minimum underkeel clearances’ which is clearly the case for dredging operations,” IHO said.

The IHO standard for 95 percent confidence level of the horizontal accuracy should be within 2 meters and for Pasig River dredging, the accuracies should be within 26 centimeters to be obtained on a maximum dredge depth of 10 meters.

For the underwater placement and overhead capping (UPOC) facility that contains the silt recovered from Pasig River, the maximum depth should be 25 meters and accuracies must be 31 centimeters.

“In addition, the tolerance on the dredging works was contractually set on 30 cm on a dredging depth of less than 10m for the river, and less than 25 m for the UPOC area,” IHO noted.

IHO noted that the calculations of the obtained accuracies during the Pasig River dredging were far better than the contract tolerances and exceeded its own standards.

“On the field, the obtained bathymetric survey accuracy can be calculated using the individual error sources such as positioning error, echosounder error, etc.  These individual error sources can be found on the equipment sheets provided by the manufacturers. The combination of these factors results in the Total Propagated Uncertainty (TPU),” the group said.