Massive flooding a 'summation of our wrongs to the environment' – Cagayan governor

The massive flooding in Cagayan – the worst in 40 years – is a showcase of environment neglect, Governor Manuel Mamba said on Saturday, November 14.

Mamba said at the Laging Handa briefing that the local government prepared in advance since flooding is common in the valley province, but the volume of water was worse than what they had prepared for.

"Ang talagang malaking problema, degradation of our forests. Abuso 'yung mga forests namin dito both in the Cordillera and Sierra Madre sides (The big problem is the degradation of our forests. The forests are abused here in both the Cordillera and Sierra Madre sides)," the governor said.

If you come to Cagayan now, parang ocean, 'di mo makikita ang river. I think through the years, napabayaan ang mga ito. We need to have a holistic approach on how to do this. Ito po ay summation ng mga mali sa environment natin," said Mamba.

(If you come to Cagayan now, it’s like an ocean, you won’t see the river. I think through the years, we have neglected this. We need to have a holistic approach on how to do this. This is a summation of our wrongs to the environment.)

Mamba said there needs to be an inter-regional approach in addressing environmental problems.

The governor said earlier on Saturday that the province is the catch basin of rain water from Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region. Illegal logging has also been a problem in the province for the past 5 decades. (READ: At least 9 dead in 'worst flooding' in Cagayan)

Mamba said some stranded residents are still atop the roofs of their houses since they are in areas still unreachable due to floods. As of 9 am on November 14, the flooding has affected at least 174,940 individuals in 26 municipalities in Cagayan. More than 11,000 families have been evacuated.

Enrile Mayor Jun Decena earlier said floodwaters breached the first floor of homes.

In Enrile town, the 3 evacuation centers have reached capacity. One of them is also flooded at the knee level. Decena said those who could not be transferred to evacuation centers yet were transferred to neighbors' houses with second floors for immediate relief.

Several factors caused the floods, including rain from recent tropical cyclones and the tail-end of a cold front, which prompted the release of water from the Magat Dam. The excess water flows to the Cagayan River and its tributaries, leading to flooding in communities.

As tropical cyclones came one after another in the past month, the soil in many parts of Luzon is already saturated as well, with limited capacity to absorb rainfall.

In the case of Cagayan, the province's dwindling forest cover due to illegal logging activities has also been blamed for the flooding. – Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.

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