DSWD-12 calls for more volunteers as Cotabato City flood victims grow

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/24 June)— The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Southwestern Mindanao or Region 12 needs more volunteers to help the rising number of flood victims in Cotabato City, officials said on Friday

Zorahayda Taha, DSWD Region 12 director, placed the number of flood-affected families inside evacuation centers at 9,077 families or 45,385 individuals, up from last Saturday’s 6,107 families or 30,535 persons.

“We need more volunteers for the repacking of food items,” she said.

Bonifacio Selma, DSWD-12 Disaster Response, Monitoring and Crisis Intervention Unit head, said that volunteers needed for Cotabato City may run to at least 70, as there are flood victims also outside of evacuation centers in the area.

He placed the latest figure of flood victims who sought refuge with their relatives at 18,947 families or 108,914 individuals.

There are at least 39 evacuation centers across Cotabato City for flood victims, Taha said.

But many more have built makeshift tents along the roads because the refugee centers could not accommodate them, she added.

The flooding in Cotabato City has been blamed on the accumulation of water hyacinths or water lilies along the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the island’s biggest river system.

Last Wednesday, Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani castigated the visiting President Benigno S. Aquino III for the national government’s alleged neglect of the flood victims, and for apparently failing to provide immediate and long-term solutions to the recurring floods in the city.

Malacanang has belied the mayor’s claim and even called the mayor a liar for saying on national television that the national government had not sent any assistance for the flood victims.

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda hit Guiani for allegedly politicizing the relief efforts and “passing the buck” instead of attending to the needs of the victims.

Taha also came to the rescue of the President, saying the national government through the DSWD has conducted relief efforts right after the flood victims trooped to the evacuation centers.

She declined to directly comment on Guiani’s claims, saying only that during disasters, it should be the local government unit that should be in the frontline.

Selma, meantime, took exceptions to reports that relief goods for the flood victims have not been distributed and are being stock piled.

He said that everyday the agency has been distributing food packs but because of lack of manpower they could not deliver them all to the flood victims.

Selma said they have food supplies enough to meet the needs of the flood victims for the next 10 days, reiterating that they need volunteers to repack the items.

As of their latest monitoring, Selma said a total of 76,559 families or 382,788 individuals were still affected by floods in the whole of Region 12.

North Cotabato has 37,421 affected families from 11 towns, he added. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)