GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Days of heavy rain badly hurt at least eight towns, destroying farms and crops valued at P130 million, and displaced thousands of families in Maguindanao province.
With the rainy season still at its peak, officials worry that the province would see more damage and destruction.
Ronjamin Maulana, Maguindanao director of the Bangsamoro region’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), said floodwaters spawned by heavy rains in the uplands of Bukidnon province and the swelling of nearby rivers and marshlands, adversely affected eight of the 36 towns in Maguindanao.
The affected farms are situated along rivers and close to the Liguasan Marsh, a sprawling wetland in central Mindanao.
Taking the brunt of the inundation are the towns of Datu Montawal, Pagalungan, Sultan sa Barongis, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Datu Piang, Northern Kabuntalan, Mother Kabuntalan, and General Salipada K. Pendatun.
Datu Montawal town serves as a catch basin because of the Kabacan River, a tributary of the bigger Pulangui River that flows from Bukidnon province, and Rio Grande de Mindanao. The two Maguindanao rivers bring water to the Liguasan Marsh.
“Whenever it rains hard in the mountains, expect floods to come,” Datu Montawal disaster officer Balumol Kadiding said.
According to Maulana, the ricefields in the eight towns were most affected, accounting for some P115 million of the losses.
Damage to cornfields amounted to some P11 million, and vegetable farms at P4 million.
The government has come to the aid of 1,472 farming families who suffered the losses, Maulana said on Saturday, August 20.
Maulana said the damage assessment excludes livestock losses.
“If the weather conditions don’t improve, we might see more damage,” he said.
The local social welfare office in Kabuntalan said some 4,561 families or about 22,805 people in 17 villages of the town were displaced when Rio Grande de Mindanao river and the Liguasan Marsh swelled and caused flooding.
In the adjacent towns of Pagalungan and Datu Montawal town, the floodwaters displaced close to 10,000 families.
Maguindanao also saw damage in Datu Montawal town when the Kabacan River overflowed and inundated 11 villages.
Datu Montawal disaster officer Kadiding said most of the flood victims evacuated, but some families opted to stay behind and wait for the floodwaters to subside.
He said some villagers were used to the frequent flooding and have already adapted to the harsh environmental conditions.
In July, Datu Montawal was placed under a state of calamity due to flooding that displaced more than 5,000 residents. – Rappler.com