Floods hit Maguindanao, towns in the Cordillera
COTABATO CITY—Severe floods spawned by days of heavy rains inundated several areas in the provinces of Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro region and Kalinga and Ifugao in the Cordilleras, including the town of Banaue that only last week was submerged in floodwater and mudflow.
Thousands of families in two adjoining towns of Maguindanao were affected by floods spawned by weather disturbances affecting Mindanao in the past two days.
Officials said the number of affected persons could still increase when all affected local government units shall have submitted their assessment reports.
In Datu Montawal town, more than 25,000 people from 5,000 families in 11 affected barangays fled their homes after continuous heavy rains in Bukidnon and Cotabato provinces caused the Tungol River in Maguindanao to overflow, flooding the town villages, according to Balumol Cadiding, the head of the town’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO).
What is now known as the Tunggol River used to be a cutoff channel built many years back to divert some of the water flowing from the Lower Pulangi River to the Liguasan Marsh to avoid flooding in Pikit, Cotabato province, during heavy rainfall.
“The water level in Datu Montawal town and nearby areas depends on the amount of rain in the provinces of Bukidnon and Cotabato,” Cadiding said in a radio interview. “We are used to it. The floodwater easily recedes but this time it has been two days since the flooding started,” he added.
He said the local government had prepared relief goods to be distributed to families who were now staying along the roadside to avoid the floodwater.
In nearby Pikit town, the municipal DRRMO was still surveying the effects of floods in the villages surrounding the Liguasan Marsh, according to office head Tahira Kalantongan.
In Pagalungan town, all 12 barangays were affected by floods although residents, who earlier elevated their houses in preparation for the perennial flooding, did not leave their homes.
Damage to agricultural crops in Pagalungan town, however, already reached an estimated P20 million, according to Ben Alip, the town’s DRRMO chief.
The rescue workers’ office in Pagalungan town was among those submerged in floodwater after the Pulangi and the Tunggol Rivers overflowed. Maguindanao serves as a catch basin of floods from surrounding upland provinces.
Relief operations have been readied by the provincial government of Maguindanao to aid affected families. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, through its Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, said it would conduct relief operations in at least eight towns affected by flooding.
In Ifugao, torrential rains due to the prevailing southwest monsoon triggered flash floods and mudslides anew in Banaue town over the weekend, inundating streets and triggering debris flows in several villages.
The deluge and stream of mud from July 16 to July 17 were also experienced in nearby Tinoc town, which was spared when the massive flash floods first hit the province on July 7.
According to Esmeralda Ullani, a resident of Barangay Tulludan in Tinoc, the mudflow rolled through major rivers, which swelled and submerged low-lying areas. No injuries or damage to properties have been reported so far.
The Banaue rural health unit was forced to temporarily stop its operations on Monday after it was also hit by the rain-induced floodwater, according to village officials.
Banaue is currently under a state of calamity and goods have been covered by a price freeze imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Local police and rescue personnel in Banaue said they had to suspend their clearing operations in some areas affected by the July 7 flood due to saturated soil and falling rocks from the mountain slopes.
Unlike in the earlier deluge, no family in Banaue was displaced this time, officials said.
Ifugao Gov. Jerry Dalipog said improved drainage tunnels were being put up along deep mountain roads to curb flash floods.
The governor clarified that flash floods were not unusual in the province as it usually received heavy rains from June until December.
He attributed the recent calamity to mudflow from roadside erosion, which blocked existing drainage.
Half of Banaue is mountainous, being part of the Sierra Madre range, which is why erosion and floods are frequent in the tourist town.
Banaue and several Ifugao towns host the centuries-old rice terraces that have collectively been designated as one of the country’s World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Ongoing roadwork and other construction activities in the town may have also contributed to the debris that triggered flooding in six barangays of Banaue, Dalipog said.
The floods that hit Banaue on July 7 damaged 1,044 houses and destroyed four others.
In Kalinga province, floods also inundated the capital city of Tabuk City on Sunday.
—WITH A REPORT FROM VINCENT CABREZA INQ
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