CAMP SIONGCO, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (MindaNews/22 June) – Water hyacinth may be a menace, with the floods in Cotabato City blamed on the aquatic plant’s rapid growth rate, but there might be a possibility to convert these pestering plants into something useful, like biofuel.
This President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, in his visit in neighboring Cotabato City Wednesday to check on the effects of the floods, wants to know as he directed the Department of Energy (DOE) to explore the possibility of making use of water hyacinth as biofuel.
Water hyacinth has been blamed for the massive floods in Cotabato City as it clogs the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the river that cuts through the city.
“Is it possible for water hyacinth to become a source of power? How could we go to that point?” Mr. Aquino asked during a press conference held at the headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.
Around 20 hectares worth of water hyacinth have clogged the Rio Grande, causing the waters to swell in barangays along the river’s path.
Clearing of the water hyacinth began on June 16, with hundreds of people, Army and police personnel among them, helping in the work.
Studies have been made abroad on the possible use of the fast-growing water hyacinth as a source of fuel.
Before meeting local officials for a briefing of the current situation, he first manage aerial inspection and inspect the dredging operations at the Rio Grande de Mindanao river , which was clogged by 20 hectares of water hyacinths that caused the swelling to nearby barangays.
He then proceeded to distribution of food packs to the flood victims at the Notre Dame Village elementary school, which serve as one of core shelter fields to the more than 900 displaced families.
” My main concern at the moment is how to ease the plight of the displaced people, from the possible diseases they may get, potable supply of water, shelters, food, and medicine”, the president added.
The displaced residents, according to Aquino, will be the top priority of the government as of the moment.
He said that the government will make sure that the basic needs of the residents both staying in and out of evacuation centers will be delivered.
Several officials accompanied Aquino in overseeing the dredging operation and briefing are National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Mindananao Development Authority chairman Lualhati Antonino, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Presidential Task Force on Mindanao River Basin Development Bishop Orlando Quevedo.
According to the Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guaini, 27 out of the 34 barangays in the city were affected by the waist to chest-deep flood. At least 29,842 families have been affected by floodwaters.
Around 21,855 of them are still staying in their homes despite being submerged in water, 4,597 families are currently staying in schools, 2,725 are sheltering in tents, while 665 are in covered courts.
There are at least 962,591 individuals are counted as flood victims by the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council suffering from one of the worst calamities in the history in the whole central Mindanao as the month of June was visited by three low pressure areas. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / Mindanews)