Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

20 died in Central Mindanao flashfloods

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- The death toll from the passage of typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen) in Central Mindanao rose to 20 after three more flashflood fatalities were recovered.

Mayor Ernesto Concepcion of Alamada, North Cotabato said the remains of Daniel Gabriedo, Samra Gabutin, 7, and David Caballero, 14 were found floating in Alamada river in Sunday. In South Upi, Maguindanao, village official Joy Rapsing Meles said of the 10 villagers reported missing Saturday, three have been recovered while the search for the seven others continues.In Barangay (villages) Bulalo, Calzada, Salimbao and Manobo, all in Sultan Kudarat town, Shariff Kabunsuan, floodwaters have already subsided but left behind at least six inches of mud and dirt.

Afraid of more flashfloods after thick clouds developed in the northern part of the province, residents opted to stay in temporary evacuation sites in Cotabato City, the provincial social welfare office said.Classes in some schools in Cotabato City have been suspended indefinitely, according to Mayor Muslimin Sema. Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City are separated by Rio Grande de Mindanao.Sema said "the flooding was a result of man's abuses over our forests." "It is a result of climate change and time for us to make a difference and save our environment," he said in a radio interview.

For 50-year-old Roberto Losario, whose two-story house in Barangay Bulalo is beyond repair after the 24-hour flooding, loggers in the mountain ranges of Barira, Buldon and Matanog located in the northern part of Shariff Kabunsuan are to blame for what had happened.

"Logging was rampant there in the 1970s and 1980s. What we are experiencing is the effect of massive cutting of trees there in previous years," he said as his family settled in a cramped classroom at the Cotabato City Central Pilot Elementary School.Simuay river, the main tributary from the mountains of Buldon, Barira and Matanog, overflowed Saturday dawn washing away dozens of houses downstream."The water made its way here now, the flashfloods will surely recur in the future," Anastacia Bagood, 56, of Barangay Salimbao, said in the vernacular.

"I already told my family members that we have to move to the village because I am sure flooding will happen again. Mayor Concepcion also blamed the situation in Alamada to logging, both illegal and legal.Cotabato City, including the towns of Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat, serves as the catch-basin of floodwaters from the Ala River, which originates in Lake Maughan in South Cotabato, and the Kabacan River, a tributary of the Agusan River in Northern Mindanao."

It may not be raining in Barangay Bulalao and nearby villages but suddenly the waters here would rise," former Sultan Kudarat Mayor Tocao Mastura told reporters. "A two-day rain in the hinterlands of Buldon and Barira would result in flashfloods down stream, especially Sultan Kudarat," he said.

On Saturday, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan directed concerned government agencies and cabinet secretaries to come to the rescue of displaced families and provide emergency assistance to the victims, especially those who lost their loved ones.

Relief operations were intensified in the Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan with the Archdiocese of Cotabato appealing for used clothing to flood victims. "I am glad the people responded and the spirit of volunteerism emerged," Cotabato auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said.

Former Representative Michael Mastura cited at least three main reasons for the heavy flooding in Sultan Kudarat town, a phenomenon that never occurred in the past: Logging in Buldon, Barira and the mountains of Alamada and Libungan in North Cotabato; the siltation of Rio Grande de Mindanao, which forced the water to find its course through residential areas; and government's failure to foresee what would happen to tributaries should a typhoon hit the region.

In Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat province, at least 3,000 people living in low-lying villages remained trapped in their homes Monday morning due to rising floodwaters from the Allah river.Lambayong is situated in the border of Sultan Kudarat and Liguasan marshland in Maguindanao.

Navy Captain Vic Sijuco of Naval Task Group 7144, said only a few civilians, mostly children, had been rescued.He said there were men ready to help but lack of rescue facilities rendered them helpless.Sijuco said in a radio interview that rescue men using rubber boats found it hard to retrieve the victims as the boats were not designed for the purpose. "These were meant to hunt pirates in the marshland," he said. (Edwin Fernandez; INQ.net)

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