Last weekend, June 26, 2011, Bariles and a group of 9 other young men and women, all members of the Soccsksargen Bloggers traveled to Cotabato City to see for themselves the damage brought about by the massive floods caused by a series of typhoons.
They left General Santos City in a van a little before noon for Cotabato, took a quick lunch at Tupi’s famous Nadie’s Chicken before proceeding to the capital of Central Mindanao.
While traversing the highways of Sultan Kudarat, signs of the devastation were still visible to them. What used to be farmlands are now submerged in flood waters. Makeshift tents of the displaced families, mostly Muslims line up the roadsides.
Upon reaching Cotabato City, they lost no time in proceeding to Delta Bridge on Rio Grande river. The bridge and that of the Tamontaka River was just recently cleared of about six hectares of water hyacinths which have earlier raised the water’s level and thus causing the worst flood in the history of the city and in Central Mindanao in the ARMM.
The water hyacinths exacerbated the floods which submerged more than 200 villages in Central Mindanao, displacing more than 600,000 persons, majority of them poor Muslims who have been relying heavily on inland water fishing and farming.
At the time that the group got there, they were able to talk to City Administrator Atty. Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi. According to her, under the water hyacinths is silt of up to three meters which made it even harder to break down into small chunks.
Her brother, Mayor Jojo Guiani‘s house which lies beside the river bank was also among those which were heavily flooded. Not even the city’s oldest and biggest educational institution, Notre Dame of Cotabato University was spared as this photo below shows.
The group visited the evacuation centers at Central Pilot Elementary School and at the Barangay RH5 where they met and interviewed a few families who have not still gone back to their homes.
Signs of support to Mayor Guiani were posted everywhere, from the major thoroughfares to the evacuation centers themselves. This was in reaction to the controversy arising from the Mayor’s interview on TV re the national government’s seemingly slow response to their needs and the President’s lack of concrete solution to the perennial flooding problem. As we all know, this further resulted to P-noy and his secretaries ganging up on Mayor Guiani who was just expressing his sentiment and those of his constituents.
The day before the bloggers arrived in Cotabato, the 37-strong Liga ng mga Barangay crossed party lines and signed a Manifesto in support of their mayor. The Manifesto also disputed the report of DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman that she has already released P79 million to the flood victims during her report to the President on June 22 during his visit. According to the Barangay captains, DSWD has only started distributing help on June 23, 2011, 10 days after the floods started and revealed that earlier, on June 18, 2011, DSWD-12 has only released 100 sacks to the Cotabato City LGU.
The manifesto also thanked those who have sent help to the flood victims, through the LGU namely Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Chiz Escudero, Representatives Lani Mercado, Manny Pacquiao, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Davao Vice Mayor Rudy Duterte, Davao City SP’s and other local and national NGOs, foreign aid agencies including the United Nations.
City Administrator Atty. Cynthia Guiani also informed the bloggers that despite all these “miscommunication“, the Local Government of Cotabato through Mayor Jojo, is still doing all it can to alleviate the problem and to assist all of those affected by the calamity.
“We will continue to do what we can and all kinds of help are welcome. Hopefully this episode will pass and everyone will get down to working together to finally find a solution to this decades-old problem besetting Cotabato City and its rivers. We should be above politics in all these.“, she concluded.
To this we say, Amen.
Check out the articles of the other Sox Bloggers by clicking on their links below..
- Cotabato Flood Victims
- Lessons to learn from the Cotabato Flood
- Cotabato City Flood
- Cotabato Flood – Concerted Efforts Needed
- Cotabato City Flooding Operations
All photos on this blogpost are courtesy of GenSan News Online Mag Inhouse Photographer Marz and the Facebook page of the Cotabato Bloggers.
If you want to send your donations to the Cotabato City flood victims, please call this cellphone #0909-685-3333 and look for Mr. Cris Sodusta, a Sox Blogger who works as a volunteer worker of the LGU.