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‘Pedring’ damage may be worse than ‘Ondoy’

NEEDING YOUR HELP Residents use boat to navigate a flooded street in Calumpit, Bulacan. PHOTO BY ARNOLD ALMACEN/INQUIRER

The damage caused by Typhoon “Pedring” in Luzon may exceed that of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” two years ago, according to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos.

“That is a possibility but I hope that will not happen,” Ramos said when asked if the extent of the damage from Pedring would exceed P11 billion.

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Ramos said the council had yet to reach a full estimate of the damage to farmlands and fisheries as well as roads and bridges in Central Luzon.

It also has yet to report the damage wrought by Typhoon “Quiel,” which hit the same areas pummeled by Pedring in Luzon.

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The NDRRMC said 56 people died during Pedring’s onslaught, while Quiel’s death toll reached four.

So far, Pedring’s damage to agriculture and infrastructure has been estimated at P8.8 billion. The figure does not yet account for areas in Central Luzon that have remained flooded six days since the typhoon left the country on September 28.

Damage to crops and livestock has reached P7.5 billion, including P6.8 billion in palay losses, while damage to roads, bridges, schools and hospitals has reached P1.25 billion.

NDRRMC records placed Ondoy’s damage to crops and infrastructure at P10.9 billion. Up to 464 people died in the 2009 calamity, where 37 others went missing

State of calamity

The legislative boards of Pangasinan province and Dagupan City on Monday declared their respective areas in a state of calamity, following the devastation wrought by Typhoons Pedring and Quiel.

Pangasinan has lost more than P700 million worth of crops, roads, bridges and dikes to the two typhoons, which hit Luzon within days last week. Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan told Pangasinan board members that losses from Pedring alone had reached P583.6 million.

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This is the second time this year that Pangasinan was declared in a state of calamity. Only in June, it lost P157 million worth of crops, fishery and infrastructure to Typhoon “Falcon.”

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will recommend to President Benigno Aquino III the declaration of a state of calamity in the areas most affected by the two typhoons, Mr. Aquino’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters Tuesday.

But even without the declaration, Lacierda said, “we are pursuing our efforts at providing assistance and relief to affected communities in Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac, also in Ifugao and Isabela.”

Lacierda said the President “also mentioned that he had tasked Cabinet officials to come up with rehabilitation plans.”

He said the departments concerned were Social Welfare and Development, Public Works and Highways, Interior and Local Government, Transportation and Communication, and Energy.

What the law says

Under Republic Act No. 10121, or the law strengthening the Philippine disaster risk reduction and management system, the declaration of a state of calamity shall make mandatory the immediate undertaking of these remedial measures:

  • Imposition of price ceilings on basic necessities and prime commodities by the President upon the recommendation of the implementing agency as provided for under RA 7581, otherwise known as the “Price Act,” or the National Price Coordinating Council.
  • Monitoring, prevention and control by the Local Price Coordination Council of overpricing/profiteering and hoarding of prime commodities, medicines and petroleum products.
  • Programming/reprogramming of funds for the repair and safety upgrading of public infrastructures and facilities.
  • Grant of no-interest loans by government financing or lending institutions to the most affected section of the population through their cooperatives or people’s organizations.

Only P78M left

Baraan said Pangasinan had set aside P109.54 million in calamity funds for 2011 but that only P78.24 million was left because P31.29 million was spent to fund rehabilitation projects after Falcon.

Mayor Benjamin Lim of Dagupan City, the commercial center of Pangasinan, said he wanted government hydrologists to determine why the city remained flooded even if it had not been raining for the past two days.

“Sunday was a generally a fair day in the entire province. There was very little rain and the water receded on Sunday morning, only to rise again at midnight. I cannot understand where the water is coming from,” he said.

Silted rivers

Lim said provincial officials had told him that even if the San Roque Dam in San Manuel town released water, Dagupan would not be flooded because the dam water flowed into the Agno River and emptied into the Lingayen Gulf.

According to San Roque Power Corp. officials, water released from the dam does not cause flooding in Dagupan because the city is not traversed by the Agno River but by the Sinocalan-Pantal river system.

Lim said the floods might have been caused by the siltation of rivers, exacerbated by fishpen operations for many years, and the impact of the July 1990 earthquake on the city’s land features.

He said the use of big water pumps had caused the ground to sink in sections of the city, and the construction of the De Venecia Highway created an artificial dike that hampered the flow of rainwater into the rivers and fishponds.

“If nothing is done, in 10 years, 20 percent of the city will always be under water. As of now, there are villages, like Pantal, which are flooded during high tide,” Lim said.

No longer No. 1

Nueva Ecija, which has consistently topped the list of rice-producing provinces, will not be able to fill its granaries this time.

Although Pedring and Quiel did not directly hit the province, they spawned strong winds and dumped heavy rains that triggered flash floods.

“The rice plants were hit by the calamity when they were very vulnerable—either in their reproductive or maturity stages,” Nueva Ecija agriculturist Serafin Santos said in Cabanatuan City.

An assessment made by city and municipal agriculturists in Nueva Ecija showed that the province lost an expected rice harvest of 300,923.35 metric tons (MT). At P12 a kilogram, the loss amounted to P3.63 billion.

When rice plants are battered by strong winds at their reproductive stage, unfilled or half-filled grains will be produced, Santos said.

He said that when soaked while in the maturity stage, the grains would darken.

Records of Nueva Ecija’s agriculture office showed that 188,000 hectares were planted to rice this cropping season, but only about 3,000 ha had been harvested before the typhoons struck.

Of the total area planted, 154,526 ha were projected to suffer losses of 30-80 percent.

Pity the farmers

Rice plants in about 104,000 ha were in their reproductive stage when Pedring and Quiel swept the province.

Santos said that before the two typhoons came, farmers and agriculture officials were expecting a bountiful harvest—at least 762,400 MT—because of the good weather.

Because of the damage, only about 60 percent of that projected harvest can be expected, he said.

“We pity the farmers. They will be buried in bigger debts,” Santos said. With reports from Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon; Norman Bordadora in Manila

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TAGS: Agriculture, damage, Disasters, Flood, Infrastucture, Natural Calamities, NDRRMC, Ondoy, Pedring, properties
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