Learning lessons from CDO and Iligan: Cotabato City orders evacuation

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/28 December) – The city government here does not want a repeat of  the tragedy that happened in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities on December 17, so fearing an impending major flooding, it ordered a forced evacuation of residents in Punol Island and warned residents along the riverside, particularly the Rio Grande de Mindanao, to be ready.

With the images of  the December 17 disaster repeatedly shown on television, some 200 families from Punol Iland in Poblacion 7, obeyed the order and sought refuge elsewhere. Familes were seen on board bancas, docking at the port.

The city government summoned the barangay captains of climare vulnerable areas (CVAs) to an emergency meeting after it received information a huge volume of water is expected to reach Cotabato City from the Pulangui River in Bukidnon.

Already, the water level in MalMar Dam in North Cotabato was reported to have risen verflowed due the rampaging floodwaters from Pulangui River.

Cotabato City is the catch basin of waters from upstream Bukidnon, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Maguindanao.

Aniceto Rasalan, Executive Secretary of Mayor Guiapal Guiani, said that during the  meeting with the barangay captains, they recommended the evacuation of residents in Punol Ilsand and for residents of riverside villages, to be ready.

“ Carmen and Kabacan rivers babagsak sa Rio Grande. Aang Cotabato City ang catch basin at dito sa atin ang bagsak nyan, and then may reports din kami natanggap na mataas ang tubig sa Ligawasan Marsh, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Daguma Range” (The waters from Carmen and Kabacan will flow into the Rio Grande. Cotabato City is the catch basin. We also received reports of water rising in Ligawasan Marsh, in North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Daguma Range), Rasalan said.

Dido Rajahmuda, Purok Leader in Poblacion 7, said “we will not wait. We will evacuate now.”

Residents in riverside areas of Kabacan, Carmen and Pikit in North Cotabato and Pagalungan and Datu Montawal in Maguindanao have also been alerted and a number of them actually fled to higher grounds Tuesday night.

Dulla Sultan, a provincial board member of North Cotabato and head of the Provincial Associaiton of Barangay Captains,  some riverside residents of Pikit sought temporary refuge in the gymnasium.

Residents reported rise of the water level in Pulangui River and wanted to be sure they are safe from harm.

A resident in Pikit said there were so many alarming messages Tuesday and added they were just waiting for the firetruck’s siren as the signal for the residents to go up to the municipal hall which is on a hill.

In Tagum City in Davao del Norte, Mayor Rey Uy said they have identified a relocation site in Barangay Madaum for residents presently residing in geo-hazard zones because they do not want a repeat of the disaster in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

“We will not wait for that moment to happen to us,” he said, adding that they have been working closely with the barangay governments not to let anyone build a house on the riverbanks.

Uy acknowledged the resistance that residents will put up against relocation but  the City Information Office said the mayor “was quick in adding that with the visible effects seen on television with those living in the riverbanks in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the people will have no choice but to follow his order.” (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)