KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 21 Oct) – More than 32,000 families from low-lying towns in North Cotabato and Maguindanao have been affected by flooding caused by torrential rains since October 14.
Arnulfo Villaruz, North Cotabato provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) operations and warning chief, said at least 22,000 families from the towns of Pikit and Kabacan were affected by flashfloods.
Of the number, 20,000 families were from the 30 barangays of Pikit, and the rest from 10 barangays of Kabacan.
Meantime, in M’lang, also a town in North Cotabato, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) led by Fire Marshall Marleap Nabor, MDRMM officers, and rescue volunteers continued their almost one-week search and retrieval operations of a 44-year-old farmer whose body was thrown into raging waters in Barangay New Lawaan last October 14.
Reports from BFP in M’lang said that as of October 20, rescue volunteers failed to retrieve the body of the drowning victim whose identity is still unknown.
Nabor, in the MDRMM’s Facebook page, has ordered to cease the operations because of the heavy rains that started pouring around 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Villaruz said that Barangay New Lawaan in M’lang is located near the Liguasan Marsh, a catch basin of waters coming from Rio Grande de Mindanao.
Also on Tuesday, rescue workers in nearby Makilala town in North Cotabato retrieved the body of 33-year-old Elden Gudmalen hours after he was swept by the strong current of flood waters in Barangay Kisante.
Makilala Mayor Armando Quibod said Gudmalen tried to save one of his farm animals from drowning when hit by strong current.
The heavy flooding since Monday affected 250 families from Barangays Kisante and New Bulatucan, according to Quibod.
In Maguindanao, two towns located near the Pulangi River were already inundated by floodwaters since October 14, according to Pagalungan Vice Mayor Abdilla Mamasabulod.
He said at least 10,000 families from his town were severely affected.
“We were in quandary why until now the waters have not subsided. Our constituents have nowhere to go but to stay in their homes, sometimes up to the roofs of their houses. We have no high grounds where they could stay because every part of the land here is already flooded, even barangays located near the national highway were not spared,” said Mamasabulod in a media interview.
Mamasabulod said that the Sangguniang Bayan, which he presides, has already declared state of calamity in his town so they could use a portion of their MDRRM fund for disaster response.
The adjacent town of Datu Montawal was also reportedly placed under state of calamity because of the natural disaster.
Villaruz said that the National Power Corporation (Napocor) released huge volumes of water from its dam in Bukidnon from October 14 to 16 because of the heavy rains, causing heavy floods in low-lying areas, especially in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
The Pulangi River in Bukidnon, which hosts a large hydroelectric plant, empties into the Rio Grande de Mindanao in the North Cotabato and Maguindanao area, including Cotabato City.
“The Napocor did not inform us about the release of waters from their dam. We were just as surprised as everyone here,” said Villaruz. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)