Mines bureau ups alert level for residents in landslide- and flood-prone areas in R-12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 January) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has raised the alert level in various landslide- and flashflood-prone areas in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao  in the wake of the continuing rainy spells in the area.

Constancio Paye, MGB Region 12 director, said Wednesday residents located near the mountainous areas and various river-tributaries should take extra precaution as the sporadic heavy rains in the area may eventually trigger possible massive landslides and flashfloods.

“The volume of rainfall that we’re having right now is above normal so it’s very important for everybody, especially those situated in critical zones, to be vigilant and be ready for possible evacuation in case the situation worsens,” he said in a radio interview.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Paye said they received initial reports of landslides in some areas in Malungon town in Sarangani and Koronadal City in South Cotabato as a result of the rainy spells in the area since Dec. 31 but said the extent was so far considered minimal.

He advised local government units in the region to regularly monitor the water levels of various rivers traversing their areas as well as the soil condition in some upland or mountainous areas.

MGB-12 had listed more than 200 villages in the region as prone to heavy flooding during the rainy season.

It earlier declared the entire Cotabato City as prone to heavy flooding 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, the MGB said the continuing siltation of the Allah River has contributed significantly to the vulnerability of the areas it traverses to flooding.

Meantime, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of South Cotabato advised residents situated near riverbanks and hilly areas to immediately evacuate to safer areas due to the possible occurrence of floods and landslides.

Nelida Pereira, PDRRMC action officer, said among the areas considered as critical were several villages in the municipalities of T’boli, Banga, Lake Sebu, Tupi and Surallah.

“We are closely monitoring these areas because of the possibility that natural calamities will occur due to heavy rainfall.  We are constantly coordinating with municipal disaster risk reduction and management councils to encourage residents who are living in dangerous areas to immediately relocate from these places to avoid tragedies,” Pereira said.

She said that since the rains started last Dec. 31, they only monitored minor cases of flooding and landslides in the province.

She said a mild twister swept Barangay Reyes in Banga town last Jan. 2 but it only partially damaged a house in the area. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)