Marcos To DPWH: Find Solutions To Perennial Floods
President Marcos said there must be long-term solutions to the floodings in the country.
Visiting flood-hit Misamis Occidental on Wednesday, Jan. 11, President Marcos gave marching orders to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to find solutions to the perennial problem that has displaced tens of thousands of people in Mindanao.
“We are looking at everything to find a solution. We will continue to dredge rivers so that water does not come out of the river quickly and we will continue to improve our flood controls,” the President said in Filipino as he led the aid distribution at The Working Congressman Sports Complex in the municipality of Tudela.
“But in the long-term, we need to think about how we can do it so that this never happens again. We don’t have this kind of risk anymore,” he added.
The plane carrying Marcos and other government officials made three landing attempts before touching down at the Ozamiz City airport due to inclement weather, a statement released by the Presidential Communications Office said.
Marcos ordered the DPWH to fasttrack the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure and conduct a study on how to address the flooding in Misamis Occidental.
In a situation briefing in Ozamiz City, the President instructed the DPWH to determine the cause of the flood in the province and work with concerned agencies to carry out a solution.
He also urged officials to tap the assistance of Japan, citing the country’s vast experience and expertise in dealing with flooding.
Local officials of Misamis Occidental told Marcos about the idea of constructing infrastructure that will divert the water running through a river to lessen the flooding in Clarin town.
According to local officials, weeks of heavy rains have damaged bridges and other infrastructure, including the flood control system constructed by the government.
They told the President that more than 16,000 families were affected by the flood in their province.
A total of 76 infrastructure, amounting to P132.14 million were damaged, including two bridges in Oroquieta City.
A total of 5,594.75 hectares or P154.38 million worth of damage to agriculture has been recorded in Northern Mindanao.
Joining the President during his visit were newly appointed Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan, Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo Jr. and Department of Social Welfare and Development officer-in-charge Edu Punay.
Marcos led the distribution of some P16.04 million worth of assistance to affected families in the province.
“I’ve been wanting to come here for a long time but the weather really doesn’t want us to fly. So now we just took our chances and we had to circle three times before we were able to land,” the Chief Executive said during a briefing with Misamis Occidental Gov. Henry Oaminal at the Ozamiz City airport.
The President’s plane landed in Ozamiz City instead of Oroquieta City as originally planned due to inclement weather.
The bad weather also prevented Marcos from doing an ocular inspection over Oroquieta City to see the extent of devastation.
Marcos also led the distribution of cash assistance amounting to P5,000 each to affected fishermen in Gingoog, Misamis Oriental under the government’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations program.
OCD: 10 dead
As of Wednesday, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said 10 people, and not 11 as some reports say, have died due to rains and floods caused by low-pressure areas throughout the country.
The OCD reported that 10 people died and four others were injured, including Regions 4A (Calabarzon), 4B (Mimaropa) and 5 (Bicol) in Luzon and parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, including the Bangasamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Upon further verification, one of the reported fatalities in the province of Capiz died due to weather-related circumstances other than the low-pressure area.
Declaring a state of calamity were Gandara municipality in Samar province, Eastern Visayas; and the municipality of Tubod, Lanao del Norte in Mindanao, where rains and floods damaged 487 houses.
Marcos, meanwhile, said the casualty rate brought by flooding in Northern Mindanao, specifically in Misamis Oriental, was “not too bad.”
“I think at least the immediate concerns have been addressed. I’m looking at the casualty rate and I think it’s not too bad considering that this was a surprise flash flood… We were not able to prepare,” the President said, citing the government’s effective preemptive evacuation in minimizing casualties.
The OCD reported 69,308 families or a total of 291,826 persons affected by the rains that started on Jan. 2, displacing 784 families or 3,224 individuals.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said a shear line and low-pressure area brought moderate to heavy rains over most of the Visayas and Mindanao.
As a result of torrential rains, three more fatalities and two missing were reported in Eastern Visayas over the weekend. In Mahaplag, Leyte, the body of 53-year-old Dioscoro Pauyon was found in a rice field submerged in flood last Tuesday morning, Jan. 10.
On the same day, the body of Lolita Mendoza, 74, who was reported missing last Jan. 4, was found in Isabel, also in Leyte.
The third confirmed fatality was a person with disability who panicked and suffered a heart attack when floodwaters rose in Barangay San Pascual, Dolores, Eastern Samar, also last Tuesday.
In Borongan City, police were still searching for spouses Carlito and Winefreda Dagumay who went missing Monday as rains caused raging waters along Suribao River where the couple was last seen in a boat.
The OCD said the total estimated damage to infrastructure as of Wednesday was at least P153 million while estimated damage to agriculture stood at over P11.7 million.
The President, meanwhile, instructed the National Housing Authority to immediately find a resettlement area for Misamis Occidental residents whose houses were destroyed by the recent flooding.
“We’ll find resettlement for those whose houses were totally destroyed,” Marcos said.
He said once a relocation area is identified, the government will send building materials so people can start constructing their new homes.
The President has also ordered the release of more than P3 million for the repair of school buildings damaged by floods in the province.
“If the LGUs can take the load, we can send you the P3 million-plus immediately. Because what’s listed here are for the school buildings,” Marcos said in another situation briefing in Gingoog City.
Gingoog Mayor Erick Cañosa disclosed that 57,937 individuals were affected by the floods brought by inclement weather.
Local officials said two fatalities were reported in Gingoog while seven were injured.
In Isabela City, Basilan, flash floods spawned by heavy rains swept through 12 barangays before dawn on Wednesday, forcing the relocation of residents.
Worst-hit by rampaging floodwaters were Isabela City’s Barangays Baluno, Lanote, Aguada, Sunrise, Cabunbanta, Menzi, Sumagdang, Makiri, Isabela proper, Riverside, Kumalarang and Tabuk.
Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone called for the speedy repair of landslide-hit homes at a resettlement site in Salcedo town where around 50 families were evacuated after their houses were damaged.
Classes in both public and private schools were suspended on Wednesday in 27 of 32 local government units in Negros Occidental in Western Visayas, as Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson placed all disaster risk reduction and management offices on heightened alert status.
Classes were suspended in highly urbanized Bacolod City, component cities of Silay, Sagay, Victorias, San Carlos, Talisay, Bago, Kabankalan, La Carlota, Cadiz, Escalante and Himamaylan, as well as municipalities of EB Magalona, Manapla Murcia, Pontevedra, Valladolid, Calatrava, Pulupandan, Isabela, Cauayan, Ilog, La Castellana, Binalbagan, Hinigaran, Don Salvador Bene-dicto and Candoni.
Working hours at the Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental and Silay City were shortened to allow government workers to go home early.
Preemptive evacuations were conducted in low-lying areas, particularly in Sitio Tanaw, Barangay Poblacion, Sagay City, where floodwaters began rising on Wednesday.
Similarly, work and classes in almost all towns of Samar province in Eastern Visayas have been suspended due to non-stop downpour and flooding. Authorities have been monitoring possible landslides, especially around schools.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) deployed its response groups and suspended various vessel trips in areas affected by the low-pressure area to avoid accidents and ensure the safety of sea travelers.
All vessel trips from Sarangani, Davao Occidental to Balangonan, Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental and General Santos City were suspended due to “moderate to strong winds.”
The PCG’s District Northeastern Mindanao was placed under full alert for whatever untoward effects that the heavy rains had brought in the Caraga region.
Some children and elderly people trapped inside their houses due to the heavy rains were rescued on Wednesday by the PCG in Zamboanga City as floodwaters rose to waist-level.
Meanwhile, the Media Affairs Division of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) announced 10 domestic flights cancelled due to bad weather as of noon.
The canceled flights were PAL Express 2P 2994 Zamboanga-Manila and 2P 2997/2998 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila; Cebu Pacific’s (5J) flights 852 Zamboanga-Manila, 853/854 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila, 855/856 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila, and 859/860 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila.
For AirAsia, its Z2 651 Manila-Zamboanga was diverted to Davao, but its Z2 652 Zamboanga-Manila was cancelled along with Cebgo’s DG 6839/6840 Manila-Del Carmen-Manila flight. – With Miriam Desacada, Michael Punongbayan, Gilbert Bayoran, John Unson, Robertzon Ramirez, Rudy Santos