Cotabato, Maguindanao under state of calamity

Subscribe Now June 12, 2011 at 10:18am

Cotabato City and Maguindanao province are placed under a state of calamity due to continuous floods that have so far killed four people and displaced 500,000 persons. Residents in calamity-hit areas will also have to brace for moderate to heavy rains in the next few days after state weather forecasters monitored a low pressure area off the coast of Mindanao.

Sixteen of Maguindanao's 36 municipalities are underwater, according to Office of Civil Defense Director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OCD-ARMM) Loreto Rirao.

The weeklong floods have already displaced an estimated 500,000 persons in Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat while some 20,000 people have fled in Cotabato City's 20 submerged villages.

Big chunks of aquatic plants have clogged the columns of Cotabato City's major bridges -- Tamontaka, Quirino, Matampay and Delta -- raising fear they might collapse.

"Cotabato City and the towns surrounding it are the catch basin of flood waters from rivers in Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao," according to Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, who chairs the Presidential Task Force on Mindanao River Basin.

Riding on a Philippine Air Force (PAF) chopper, Quevedo and Rirao surveyed on Saturday the Liguasan marshland to have a bird’s eye view of the situation on the ground.

Huge chunks of water lilies, also known as “water hyacinth,” are moving from upstream and expected to reach Cotabato City and nearby towns.

"Before these water lilies reach the seas, it has to pass and clog the bridges in the city, endangering lives and properties," Rirao said.

Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. has sought the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) central office but has yet to receive a response.

Government engineers and workers continue to remove the water lilies but the volume is increasing.

Mayor Tocao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao said the rivers that are now clogged have overflowed, causing the inundation of dozens of barangays in his municipality and in eastern side of Cotabato City.

In North Cotabato, four people drowned including two teeners after heavy floods and landslides, caused by incessant rains, hit eight of its municipalities.

The dead were identified as: Roberto Argoncillo Jr., 16; and his brother Romel Argoncillo, 14, of Poblacion, Libungan, Cotabato; Rudy Aperdo of Fort in Pikit town; and Paulino Canja, 54, of Magpet town.

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) chief Vergelita D. Guilaran said hardest hit by floods are the towns of Banisilan, Carmen, Kabacan, Matalam, M'lang, Pikit, Tulunan and Pres. Roxas.

The office of North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza has distributed relief goods to affected residents.

The Provincial Government is reportedly set to declare a state of calamity in nine barangays in President Roxas, North Cotabato.

Mendoza has ordered provincial officials and police to monitor the areas affected by flooding and assist affected residents.

According to President Roxas Mayor Jaime Mahimpit at least 300 families fled their homes due to the flooding.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) located a new weather disturbance some 250 kilometers east of Davao City.

Acting weather division chief Robert Sawi ruled out the possibility of the low pressure area (LPA) turning into a storm because it will soon touch landmass, thereby weakening its chance to intensify.

The LPA is embedded along the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), which will bring rains to the region that can possibly trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, and the eastern section of Southern Luzon will experience mostly cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms over the weekend.


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