With the unusual and sustained torrential downpour in recent weeks across the country, news of heavy flooding, landslides and related incidents are a daily news items. In the latest count, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) placed the total deaths to 40 nationwide. Prominently, the landslide-stricken town of St. Bernard in Southern Leyte has once again figured in another landslide incident claiming another 3 lives and left hundreds homeless.
In our neigbouring province of Negros Occidental, at least 2 fatalities were recorded by drowning in EB Magalona town, while some 6 thousand families were displaced due to sever flooding in five towns and cities, including its capital, Bacolod. Silay City has been declared under the state of calamity.
In Bicol and Mindanao, it’s even worse where heavy rains battered the region and the island, respectively as early as the Christmas break leaving Albay province and CARAGA and Davao regions inundated and isolated.
Initial government estimate put the damage to infrasructures and farms at nearly 900 million pesos ($20.29 million).
And Negros Oriental was not spared from the calamity. The Visayan Daily Star reported:
“ The Negros Oriental Search-and-Rescue and the Philippine National Police retrieved Wednesday the bodies of a father and son who drowned when they were carried away by floodwaters at the Odiongan River in Tanjay City, early Tuesday.
Alejandro Somoza, head of the Capitol-based NOSAR, identified the victims as Balodoy Banjao, 52, and his son, Jimmer, 26, of Brgy. Libho in Manjuyod town.”
Early on, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has “warned Negrenses living near water courses to take the necessary precautions and be alert for possible flashfloods, following PAGASA’s advisory of strong to gale force wind that is expected to affect the seabords of Visayas. It further identified watercourses that are likely to affect Tanjay; Candugay, Siaton; Cauitan & Sipocong rivers in Sta Catalina; and Bayawan City’s Pagatban river”.
Yet, despite the prior advise of the PDRRMC, it seems that LGUs, including city governments and barangay officials were insulated from the possible threats and risks of the erring weather. Given the scale of damage these rains have brought to other parts of the country, it is incumbent upon mayors (as officials should always observe) to take critical steps to prevent further casualties and destruction of properties. And the DILG must monitor how these LGUs are performing in terms of disaster risk management.
While for Negrenses, we can’t afford to be complacent at this point in time where all of us are at serious risk. We must learn from the deluge in Dumaguete and Valencia last year.
After all, our local officials are not liable for our lives and properties. They could always invoke, FORCE MAJEUR.