Constantino Paye Jr., regional director of the DENR's Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said the flood-prone areas covers 58 barangays in South Cotabato, 79 in North Cotabato, 31 in Sultan Kudarat and 36 of Cotabato City's 37 barangays.
He said these findings were based on the results of the newly-completed geo-hazard mapping conducted by the MGB in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato province and the cities of Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The MGB has yet to conduct the geo-hazard mapping in Sarangani province.
Paye said nearly the entire Cotabato City was found to be flood-prone due to its proximity to the Liguasan Marsh and riverbanks of tributaries flowing to the Rio Grande de Mindanao.
In South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, he said the continuing siltation of the Allah River has contributed significantly to the vulnerability of nearby villages to flooding.
"An estimated 16 million tons of aggregates are transported, added and deposited to the river channel everyday that eventually leads to the immediate flooding of the lowland areas near river banks," he said at the weekly media forum of the Philippine Information Agency.
Paye urged residents to help the ongoing quarrying, dredging works and the re-channeling of the river's water flow.
He said quarrying and dredging were recommended for the Allah River in a bid to protect the river banks, deepen the river channel for the free flow of water and prevent the overflowing of the river.
Paye said that aside from securing nearby communities from possible flooding, these interventions at the Allah River area may provide jobs to local workers and additional revenues to the government.
On the other hand, Paye advised flood-prone barangays situated in the lowland areas to put up a rain gauge during heavy rains to determine the volume of water from the rain and the level of water that would flow in the area.
"This is also to determine if the flooding pose risks within a short period of time and to let the people know when to vacate to higher elevation," he said.
Paye also warned residents near river bank not to put up any infrastructure that may hamper the free flow of water downstream. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)