Floods displace 20,000 families in Mindanao

COTABATO, Maguindanao, Philippines -- Four days of continuous torrential rains have displaced some 20,000 families in Central Mindanao as a dozen towns in Maguindanao and three others in North Cotabato have been submerged in floodwater for days.

The light, yet continuous rainfall also caused the closure of the Isulan-Lebak highway for weeks now.

Families from Saudi Ampatuan, Pagalungan, Datu Montawal, Datu Piang, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Mamasapano, Shariff Aguak, Datu Unsay, Talitay, Sultan sa Barongis, Kabuntalan and SK Pendatun in Maguindanao were displaced after floodwater rose waist-deep since Monday, the Office of Civil Defense in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OCD-ARMM) said.

Lita Enok, OCD-ARMM regional director, said hardest hit are low-lying towns in Maguindanao near the Liguasan Marsh.

The displaced families are housed temporarily in barangay halls and public schools. Classes have been suspended in most of the affected areas.

Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan has ordered the release of rice and other relief items to the evacuees.

Engineer Norie Unas, Maguindanao provincial administrator, also appealed to government relief agencies for help, especially health workers, to prevent the spread of disease.

In North Cotabato, the villages of Pigcawayan, Libungan and Alamada were also
submerged in floodwaters from the Liguasan Marsh.

Flooding results when water from the Rio Grande de Mindanao flows down and meets seawater during high tide.

Agriculture officials still have to assess the damage brought about by flooding to the thousands of hectares of ready-to-harvest agricultural products.

The vast Liguasan Marsh serves as catch basin for water from the Daguma Ranges in Sultan Kudarat, Alah River in South Cotabato and tributaries in the borders of Maguindanao, Bukidnon and North Cotabato.

The road linking Isulan to Lebak, both in Sultan Kudarat, was also blocked by a landslide.

Fr. John Howard, a missionary assigned in Kulaman town, said the landslide crippled the economy of his town and its agriculture sector.

"There's no more fuel in town, and prices of commodities have shot up. Worse, farmers have lost income as perishable agri-products rot because of lack of transportation to the market place," Howard said.

"We appeal to the road contractor, the provincial government and our national officials to address our problem here," he said.

"Had the landslide happened before the elections, surely it could have been quickly removed," he added. Edwin Fernandez, PDI Mindanao Bureau

03/08/2004

Bron : Inq7.net

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