Classes suspended as rains trigger flooding in Cotabato areasBy Edwin Fernandez
COTABATO CITY, Philippines–Incessant rain the past three days flooded low-lying villages here and in 16 towns in Maguindanao and North Cotabato surrounding the Liguasan marshland that overflowed since Saturday.
Maguindanao schools division superintendent Meriam Kawit said classes in low-lying barangays (villages) have been suspended since Sunday as most schools were flooded after the Rio Grande de Mindanao swelled. (In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Fridays are considered prayer day and Saturdays as rest day).
Affected by the floods were low-lying villages of Sultan Kudarat, Northern Kabuntalan, Kabuntalan Mother, Datu Piang, Talayan, Guindulungan, Datu Saudi, Datu Anggal, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Pagalungan and Datu Montawal in Maguindanao and low-lying villages of Pigcawayan, Libungan, Midsayap, Aleosan and Pikit in North Cotabato situated beside the marshland.
In Cotabato City, at least 25 of 37 barangays were under water since Sunday forcing an estimated 20,000 families to flee to safer grounds, according to disaster officials.
Aniceto Rasalan, secretary to Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr, said classes in elementary level both private and public were suspended due to heavy rain Monday morning.
Heavily affected barangays are those situated east of the city since they are the first to catch the water from an overflowed Rio Grande de Mindanao.
Water in some villages rose to knee level after three days of incessant rain.
Classes at all levels at the Notre Dame University here were suspended Monday as the main road leading to the school has been flooded since Saturday, according to NDU president Fr. Eduardo Tanudtanud.
The state weather bureau said a low pressure area (LPA) and the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), sighted off Mindanao, have brought moderate to heavy rains to most parts of the island.
Among the towns in Maguindanao heavily affected by floods was Sultan Kudarat town situated near the mouth of heavily silted Rio Grande de Mindanao.
Both the city and Sultan Kudarat town served as catch basin of flood waters flowing from North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat en route to Maguindanao marshland before exiting to the Moro gulf and passing by Cotabato City.
Mayor Datu Shameem Mastura of Sultan Kudarat said at least 11 barangays have been underwater since Friday.
Bara Sulayman, a farmer and resident of Layog, Datu Montawal, Maguindanao, said the flood water started to rise on Saturday night when the Kabacan River overflowed due to heavy to moderate rains.
Sulayman and more than a dozen families have put up shanties along portions of the Cotabato-Davao highway in anticipation of more floods as rain continue Monday morning.
“Our situation is difficult, this is the sixth time that we evacuated due to floods,” Sulayman told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a roadside interview Monday.
She said even if no rains occur in Datu Montawal town but heavy down pour is happening at Mt. Apo in North Cotabato, their village would soon be flooded once the Kabacan River overflows.