Floods destroy school materials in Mindanao
KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato, Philippines — The recent flash floods that inundated parts of Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces because of the continuous heavy rains have wiped out and destroyed millions of pesos worth of classroom facilities that learners could no longer use once classes resume next week.
Ditchel Annagoe, principal of Malabuwaya Elementary School in the town of Kabacan in Cotabato, said that in her school alone, at least half a million pesos worth of computers, printers, books, and printed modules were destroyed when the area was submerged in neck-deep floodwaters last week after the Pulangi River overflowed following days of heavy downpour.
Public schools in the villages of Lumayong and Dilangalen in Kabacan town also experienced the same as these schools sat close to the banks of Pulangi River.
“The area serves as a catch basin of excess waters from the river,” Annagoe said, referring to Pulangi whose headwaters come from as far as Maramag town in Bukidnon province.
“Though we are used to it, the flash floods last week were the worst in the last eight years that I’ve been serving here as principal,” she added.
In the nearby Datu Udtog Matalam High School in the town of Pagalungan in Maguindanao, more than 100 computer sets were submerged when the area got flooded on Friday afternoon. Floodwater also penetrated the classrooms, damaging books in the library and learning modules, school officials said.
Officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) said equipment and other instruction materials lost in these two schools alone already ran to over P1 million. Other schools were still assessing the extent of flood damage to their facilities.
The DepEd has already initiated the Brigada Eskuwela to prepare the schools for the Aug. 22 opening of classes but parents of learners in the communities that suffered the worst flooding were still deep into cleaning their homes, which were also submerged in water.
However, the opening of classes in schools under the Cotabato Division would push on Aug. 22, said Dr. Isagani dela Cruz, superintendent of the Cotabato Schools Division.
He said DepEd officials had been coordinating with several churches and local governments to allow pupils from schools affected by floods to use their covered courts and even the chapels as temporary learning facilities.
“We hope to get a positive response to our request. We are doing this for the school opening and the face-to-face classes to push through,” Dela Cruz said.
He said at least 270,000 learners were expected to troop to public schools in the province when in-person classes finally open after two years of online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Bicol region, heavy rains that started on Sunday night also flooded villages in the provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur.
As of Monday morning, some roads were not passable in Barangay Sagrada Familia, Bonbon, Bulusan, San Isidro, San Vicente and Sitio Paclas in Barangay Zone 4 due to the swollen Talisay and Marocmoc Rivers in Libon town, Albay.
Ian James Secillano, head of Libon municipal disaster risk reduction and management office (MDRRMO), said the heavy downpour also triggered a minor soil erosion in Barangay San Vicente but the roads were already cleared by the village officials.
In Camarines Sur’s Balatan town, the Siramag-Luluasan spillway overflowed and prevented residents and motorists from crossing the villages of Pararoa and Camangahan.
Balatan MDRRMO head Xanthen Domenic Beñegas said there were no affected houses in the area but more than a hundred vehicles were stranded until 11 a.m. on Monday.
—WITH A REPORT FROM MA. APRIL MIER-MANJARES
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