MGB says it’s not remiss in warning LGUs

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/22 Dec) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-10) has repeatedly issued warnings of landslides and floods to local government units and has given recommendations on how to mitigate floods.

But City Hall also insists it has warned people living in flood prone areas but the warnings have been continuously ignored.

In a press statement issued Wednesday, MGB-10 said it has not been remiss in its task to inform and recommend flood mitigating measures.

“The city governments (Cagayan de Oro and Iligan) have earlier been provided the results of the geohazard assessment and the geohazard maps prepared by the DENR-MGB,” officer-in-charge regional director Alfredo Relampagos said.

The MGB said its Information, Education and Communication (IEC) division has conducted a forum for the local government units in the region.

It said it issued two advisories – one “on the possible adverse effects of the La Nina weather phenomenon, particularly, landslides and floods,” earlier this year and another later in the year “that stronger typhoons are expected to make landfall from September until December of this year.”

In a phone interview Thursday, city administrator and disaster incident commander Grecilda Joson admitted City Hall received the advisories and recommendations of MGB-10.

“Yes, we received the warnings but the people living in the flood prone areas continuously ignore our warnings. However we warn them, they seem not worried at all,” lamented Joson.

She added that the warnings are usually just scoffed at since these people have lived in these areas for the longest time.

“In fact, our workers were up all night monitoring the storm,” she said.

The geohazard map also identified Isla de Oro as inhabitable because of its “high susceptibility to flooding.” Almost all houses in Isla de Oro, a river delta of Cagayan de Oro River, were either swept towards Macajalar Bay or destroyed by debris carried by the flood waters. Incidentally, most of its residents are recipients of Mayor Vicente Emano’s “Piso-piso” resettlement program.

In its letter dated August 3, 2009 to then Mayor Constantino Jaraula, MGB-10 furnished City Hall the “Results of the MGB Geohazard Assessment of Barangays in Cagayan de Oro.” The geohazard mapping stemmed from the flashfloods in January of 2009 where close to 200,000 residents were displaced.

The report recommended the construction of dikes along the Cagayan de Oro River, improvement and repairs of the city’s drainage facility, implementation of flood control measures along river embankments and the activation of the Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council (BDCC) in areas most susceptible to flooding. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)