Task Force Pablo holds first briefing in ComVal

NABUNTURAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/16 February)— Two months after super typhoon ‘Pablo’ struck, key officials of Task Force Pablo held Friday at the  Nabunturan provincial capitol its first briefing with local government officials of Compostela Valley (ComVal).

Social Welfare Sec. Corazon Soliman and Science and Technology Sec. Mario Montejo presented the task force’s assessments on Pablo’s impact, the action plans and safe areas for relocation or habitation in the area.

Noting President Benigno Aquino’s instruction “Hindi na dapat maulit ang Pablo” (No more Pablo), Montejo produced simulated inundation maps using advanced mapping technology and Light Detection and Ranging or LiDAR instruments.

He showed the LiDAR-produced topographic maps of Compostela, Monkayo and New Bataan in ComVal, including elevations with digital surface model, bare earth (minus the man-made structures), and aerial photos of every village in the three towns.

LiDAR-produced maps are part of the Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation or DREAM program under the Department of Science and Technology’s Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards or “Project NOAH.”

Areas marked with red are classified high risk for flooding and not safe for habitation, and those marked with orange means a medium risk for flooding, Montejo said.

Areas proposed for relocation sites are marked with yellow.

Based on the DOST maps, a total of 56.33 hectares (ha) have been identified as relocation sites in Monkayo, 231 ha in Compostela and 189 ha in New Bataan.

The three municipalities received a printed copy of topographic maps from the task force, while their barangays got DVD copies of their respective maps.

Soliman said the government had spent huge amount of money for expensive technologies to have accurate information for disaster mitigation.

The DREAM project, including the LiDAR technology, costs about P1.6 billion, Montejo said.

Soliman urged the local officials to relocate residents living in dangerous sites to the identified safe areas.

She said that new communities will be built only in identified safe areas and that the residents must be convinced to live there.

For those who have thriving farms or businesses in unsafe areas identified in the LiDAR maps, they can continue their livelihood but should not live there anymore, Soliman said.

A composite team from the DOST and Mines and Geosciences Bureau will be formed to educate and convince the people to relocate, she said.

Soliman said that additional funds will be poured next week to Task Force Pablo on top of the quick response fund for relief and rehabilitation operations.

The task force is also composed of the departments of Trade and Industry, the Interior and Local Government, and Public Works and Highways, among others,

ComVal Gov. Arturo Uy presided the meeting, which was attended also by Reps. Ma. Carmen S. Zamora and Rommel Amatong, Vice Governor Ramil Gentugaya, provincial board members, municipal mayors and vice-mayors.

Undersecretary Lesley Jeanne Cordero of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the task force’s briefing intends to discuss with the local government units the assessments and plans to rebuild the areas hardest hit by Pablo. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)