Findings on Malaybalay floods probe out soon

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 16 Oct) – The results of the investigation of the recent floods here by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) will be due next week as the City Council called on at least five city offices to report on the matter.

Ma. Anita Fernandez, City ENRO chief, told MindaNews the barangays have set no date yet on a community multi-sectoral gathering to discuss the findings.

But she said she will render her report before members of the city council on October 22. She said she will report on the findings of the multi-partite monitoring (MMT) team’s series of inspections in the area, including one made after the flood.

Vice Mayor Roland Deticio, during the council’s regular session last week, asked the chiefs of the five offices to render their report in aid of legislation.

According to the city council secretariat, asked to appear in next week’s session are representatives from the City ENRO, the City Agriculture Office, the City Engineers’ Office, the City Social Welfare and Development Office, and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

At least 360 families or over 500 individuals were affected after floods hit the adjoining barangays of Aglayan and Cabangahan on October 5, the CSWDO reported.

Barangay chairmen of two villages hit by flash floods called on Lapanday Diversified Products Corporation to stop operations in certain areas wherein the agricultural firm is believed to have contributed to the flooding.

Aglayan barangay chairman Leopoldo Jamora told MindaNews last week they are asking the firm to stop operations in certain areas “for the safety of the people.”

He said they have previously complained that the firm has violated its environmental compliance certificate (ECC) due to its alleged failure to plant sufficient trees in its buffer zone.

Lapanday asked to defer official comments on the incident pending the release of the report of the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team’s (MMT) inspection, said Robert Aquino, an officer of Lapanday in Malaybalay.

According to its website, Lapanday “adhere closely to environment-friendly procedures; follow international standards for sustainable agricultural practices.”

Jamora admitted that they cannot totally blame the firm but stressed that the latter is a “major contributor” to the floods, blaming its land preparations in upland areas.

Immediately after the flood, Jamora sought for an audience with Lapanday and other stakeholders. But he said Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri asked him to defer it as he sent engineers to study what is wrong and see how it can be solved.

“I will listen to the people’s voice on the outcome of the study,” he added.

Cabangahan barangay chairman Edwin Rara agreed with Jamora. He said stopping operations in flood-prone areas will be good while Lapanday is unable to address the problems brought by their operations.

He cited that the narrow canals in the village put them to risk every time Cabangahan Creek overflows.

Rara described the response from the firm’s personnel about their complaints as “slow, weak.”

He said he will open it up with the barangay council to pass a resolution urging Lapanday to cease operations in flood-prone areas until this problem is addressed.

Barangay councilman Victor Ravidas said they are seeking solution to the problem of flooding with the narrow canals and also possible relocation of the residents.

Most of the 470 families affected last Saturday are from Cabangahan.

About 264 of the 600 households of the village were affected. Rara reported a total of 30 houses totally destroyed and 50 others partially destroyed.