11 Maguindanao towns flooded

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/18 June)—Eleven towns in Maguindanao have been flooded due to intermittent rains in the past few days, lawyer Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said on Wednesday.

Alamia, also chief of ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (ARMM-HEART), identified the flooded towns as Datu Salibo, Shariff Saydona, Datu Piang, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Sultan sa Barongis, Mamasapano, Ampatuan, Pagalungan, Datu Montawal, Mamasapano and Rajah Buayan.

The floods triggered evacuation, with Alamia saying they are still validating the number of evacuees as of posting time Wednesday.

Most of the affected residents are staying with their relatives based on the monitoring of ARMM-HEART, she added.

On Tuesday night, the barangays (villages) of Matagabong, Kakal, Matalimon, Kapinpilan, Pinagayao and Kauran in Ampatuan town were submerged after water in an irrigation system spilled over, said Insp. Ronald De Leon, the town’s police chief.

But there was no displacement in the affected areas, De Leon added.

In the village of Dasawao and Pagatin in Shariff Saydona town, the local disaster unit has reported that dozens of families have evacuated to a mosque or stayed with their relatives living on higher grounds.

The Pagatin elementary school has been submerged in waist-deep water since last week, prompting the suspension of classes, said municipal police chief Abdulbasit Kulod.

“Actually 90 percent of the locality is affected. Kapag sige ang ulan sa Sultan Kudarat province, dito napupunta ang mga tubig (The water drains down here when Sultan Kudarat province experiences continuous rains),” Kulod said.

Teng Gumama, a village councilor, said that high school students from the interior villages have to shell more money for transportation, as they have to ride thrice in order to reach their schools.

In Kabuntalan town, Noraida Taha, a mother, has decided to sell her remaining native chickens for fear they will not thrive with floodwater surrounding their community with the onset of the rainy season.

Jerry Dados, another town resident, said that free potable water has become a problem after floodwater sank a water pumping station nearby.

“Now we have to buy P10 per gallon of water,” he said.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu has alerted provincial workers for the possible worsening of the situation.

“We are closely coordinating with the local government units and the local police on the rising water volume from the Liguasan marsh and the rivers”, Mangudadatu said.

Currently, the water level “is still tolerable,” said provincial health worker Lynette Espardante.

In this city, Mayor Japal Guiani alerted the city disaster coordinating council and the barangay chairpersons against water hyacinths that may possibly block major tributaries that will trigger flooding. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)