Flooded hi-way in Davao Sur cleared of mud, debris

DARONG, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur (MindaNews/19 January) – Workers from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had cleared the highway here of mud and debris carried along by floodwaters last Monday night that spilled over the road stranding vehicles and hundreds of commuters.

DPWH engineer Nonito Capacio said three backhoes and several teams of workmen cleared the highway around 4pm Tuesday allowing the vehicles to use both lanes.

Darong lies along the national highway between the cities of Davao and Digos. The same road links General Santos City and Cotabato City.

Capacio said the rampaging waters from Sibulan River spilled near the office of the Aboitiz-owned Hedcor and Sitio Durian in Barangay Daroy before flowing towards the highway.

The flood also entered the nearby San Miguel Brewery but did not do any significant damage to its offices and production line.

“The old folk told us that the route the water took last Monday night was the original course of Sibulan River,” Capacio told Mindanews.

Working overtime last Monday night, Capacio said they deployed three backhoes and teams of workmen to fill the gap in Sibulan River where the rampaging waters spilled.

He said they also dug a canal beside the highway to drain some of the water.

“We managed to open one lane by Tuesday morning and then both lanes by 4pm,” he said.

The municipal council of Sta. Cruz met yesterday to assess the damage brought by the disaster. Noontime today, it passed a resolution declaring Darong under a state of calamity.

Three persons were confirmed to have died while some 800 families went to evacuation centers in Barangay Astorga, also in Sta. Cruz town and nearby Barangay Sirawai in Davao City.

“We’re doing our best in the LGU (local government unit) to help the victims. Everybody is helping!” Benbenuto Caspi, Sta. Cruz municipal secretary told MindaNews by email.

Caspi said the municipal government has identified the four villages of Guava, Rambutan, Durian and Paya as “high risk areas” for flash floods but their warnings were ignored by the residents.

He said the municipal government even earmarked a relocation site for the residents.

Jose Ariel Jumilla, youth coordinator of Saint Joseph parish and former municipal agriculture officer urged the local government to implement a strict policy against illegal loggers in the mountains of Sta. Cruz. (Froilan Gallardo with reports from Violeta Gloria/MindaNews)