COTABATO CITY (Feb. 6, 2017 / ARMM Bureau of Public Information) – Officials of government agencies, including those under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), were convened on Monday, February 6, at the Office of the Regional Governor for a coordination meeting on the current build-up of water hyacinth in parts of Maguindanao and Cotabato City rivers.
The meeting, led by Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, discussed plans for a short-term solution to the problem that began last Monday, January 30. Affected areas are the river waters between Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City and between Datu Piang, Maguindanao and Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Water hyacinth has already covered around four hectares on these waters and some have already formed into islets based on a report from the region’s Humanitarian and Emergency Action Response Team (HEART). Unless checked immediately, the build-up will likely result in the rise of river water that could inundate nearby areas.
James Mlok, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Maguindanao 2nd district engineer, said his team has started to clear up parts of the river below Sajid Piang Bridgeconnecting Datu Piang and Midsayap as early as last week.
As agreed upon during the meeting, DPWH will re-start the removal of water hyacinth build-up in the Datu Piang-Midsayap area of the river on Tuesday, February 7. Part of the clearing operation is Datu Piang local government unit’s (LGU) relocation of families living under the SajidPiang Bridge to prevent casualties once the rive water rises significantly.
Sec. Alamia said the ARMM government is eyeing two long-term solutions to the recurring problem of flooding in Maguindanao and parts of CotabatoCity, one of which is a project to be funded by the Peoples Republic of China. It will be implemented within the year.
Officials from ARMM-HEART, Office of Civil Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 6th Infantry Division, Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities, the LGUs of Midsayap, Datu Piang, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato City, as well as representatives from the Moro Islamic Front and the Moro National Liberation Front were present during the meeting. They all form part of an emergency team that will respond to similar situations in the future. (ARMM Bureau of Public Information)