Bukidnon declares state of calamity in 4 towns

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/20 Dec) – The provincial government of Bukidnon today declared a state of calamity in the towns of Baungon, Libona, Manolo Fortich and Impasug-ong upon the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC).

The move authorizes the immediate release of P22.7 million for assistance to victims of Typhoon “Sendong,” including P1.5 million for the victims in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

The amount excludes the budget required to repair roads, bridges and spillways destroyed by rampaging floodwaters. The province still has P31.24 million from its calamity funds for 2011 and P42.41 million still unexpended from the 2010 calamity funds.

In separate resolutions, the provincial board decided to release about P3 million for immediate financial assistance to victims and families of the casualties. The budget includes burial assistance, clothing, water, medicine, kitchen utensils, blankets and sleeping mats.

The resolutions were among the last passed by the board in the special session before they went on recess for the Christmas break. The provincial government also allocated P13.2 million for emergency housing assistance for the 132 families who lost their houses to the floods.

But board member Rogelio Lago, who is from Baungon, said the victims should no longer be allowed to build their houses along the flood-prone areas.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan also allocated P5 million to assistance for crop and livestock damages.

The provincial government matched the financial assistance provided by Valencia City to the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, at P1 million and P500,000, respectively. But Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. stressed that it should be specified for the repair and rehabilitation of houses of the victims.

The city government of Malaybalay sent about 800 sacks of rice, 300 each for the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, and 200 sacks for the northern Bukidnon towns affected by the storm.

The provincial government cancelled all Christmas parties at the Capitol in solidarity with the victims of the tragedy.

Arsenio Alagenio, PDRRMC executive officer, said the provincial death toll rose to 39 with 116 persons still missing as of Tuesday morning.

Board member Lago said two important and long bridges in Impasug-ong town were also washed out. Manolo Fortich Mayor Rogelio Lago also reported that one village has been isolated as a bridge was destroyed.

The board also passed a resolution asking President Benigno Aquino III, who declared today a national state of calamity, to consider the repair of Cabula Bridge in Baungon town and two other bridges using his presidential fund for bridges.

The PDRRMC estimated damage to provincial government and municipal structures, excluding those belonging to barangays, at P113.28 million.

Board member Lago said the town is no longer isolated as the Calag Road between Libona and Baungon was already partially repaired. But he clarified that only light vehicles can get through as of Monday afternoon.

The deliberations on the resolutions, however, was initially marred by inconsistencies in the number of casualties and families directly affected. From the 150 families estimated Monday, the provincial board approved the distribution of immediate assistance kits to 250 families after reports from barangays in Baungon were included. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)