Cotabato archbishop appeals for continuous help to flood victims

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/27 June) — Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato City has urged for continuing unity and donations to ease the plight of tens of thousands of flood victims in Cotabato City.

In an appeal written in Filipino and printed June 25 in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate-owned The Mindanao Cross weekly, the religious leader also appealed to stop the finger-pointing as to who should be blamed on the massive flooding that submerged most of the city in the past two weeks.

“Ito po ang panahon ng pagkakaisa. Hindi po ito panahon ng pagsisihan. Hindi po ito panahon ng pag-aalsa ng sariling upuan. Ito po ay panahon ng pagkakaisa at pagtutulungan upang sa ano mang pamamaraan malutas ang suliranin ng ating bayan (Now is the time for unity. Now is not the time for blaming. This is not the time to look for credit. Now is the time to be united and helpful so that we can solve the problem of our locality in whatever means possible),” Quevedo said.

The flooding in Cotabato City has been blamed on the accumulation of water hyacinths or water lilies along the Rio Grande de Mindanao. Sporadic heavy rains have hit the area in the last two weeks.

Quevedo urged non-government and religious organizations, civil society groups, local government units, and Army and police personnel to continue joining hands in removing the water hyacinths clogging the river system.

Reports said the water hyacinths that accumulated at the city’s Delta Bridge have been removed on Sunday.

President Benigno C. Aquino III, in his visit last Wednesday in the city, ordered the Department of Science and Technology to study the possibility of turning the water hyacinths into sources of energy.

Quevedo noted that everyone can help by giving cash or any material donations.

“Every help however small is a big blessing from God,” he said.

In his appeal, the archbishop reported that flood water still continues to flow to low-lying portions of Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao from the Rio Grande de Mindanao, Simuay and Matampay rivers.

According to a June 24 report from the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, there were 9,077 families or 45,385 individuals in 39 evacuation centers in the city.

On the other hand, the number of flood victims who sought refuge with their relatives was pegged at 18,947 families or 108,914 individuals.

In the whole Southwestern Mindanao region, there were 76,559 families or 382,788 individuals still affected by the floods as of last Friday.

North Cotabato, one of the heavily-flooded provinces, has 37,421 affected families from 11 towns. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)