A VILLAGE chief lambasted Cagayan de Oro City Hall Thursday, January 19, for its officials’ apparent neglect of flood victims from three districts of Puntod village, saying they have yet to hear from any representative of the City Government almost four days after the flood.
Marvin Beja said some 1,700 families in three districts covering Tabako, Lapaz, Mendoza, San Nicolas, San Vicente, and Balacanas were affected by waist-deep flood waters, which lasted five hours before subsiding.
Beja added flood waters from Bitan-ag Creek linger in the village of Puntod in this city before being flushed into the sea at low tide.
He said most of the affected families sought shelter at the Philippine Ports Authority compound in Corrales Avenue Extension but some chose to remain in their homes.
But Beja said he has no accurate count of the number of affected families.
He said no representative from the City Social Welfare and Development(CSWD) office came to gather data on affected families.
"Wala gani nila mapansin sa siyudad. Wala sila magkuha data pila ang affected dinhi pati CSWD wala (They didn’t even notice the city. They didn’t gather data on how many families were affected)," Beja said.
Beja also contradicted earlier statements by city officials that information regarding the impending flood was passed on to village officials, saying no one from the City Hall informed him about the threat of flooding.
Beja said he only received an advisory from the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) Tuesday, January 17, informing him of the lifting of the alert level.
"Naa koy na-receive nga gi-lift na ang alert level sa Tuesday na pero walay communication before sa baha (I received an information that the alert level was lifted only on Tuesday but there was no communication before the flood)," Beja said.
Barangay 23 chairman Jaime Frias III, likewise, said he did not receive a warning or advisory on the torrential rain and the subsequent threat of flooding from the CDRRMO.
"I just learned about it through Facebook nga naay hulga sa baha (that there was threat of flood) so nag-initiate ko nga ipahibalo akong mga (I initiated to inform my) constituents," Frias said.
Frias said the City Hall authorities may have been complacent and failed to foresee that the clogged creeks may cause flooding.
"Mayor's call gyud to nga hitabo (what happened was a mayor’s call)," Frias said of the supposed absence of useful information from the local government.
Another village official, Lapasan village chairman Omar Labuntog, said he did not receive advisories from the CDRRMO and said he acted on his own initiative to inform his constituents and mobilize rescue teams.
"Wala nako magsalig sa CDRRMO kay naa nami experience nga ing-ani, gi-ready ko na ang rescue team. But ang problema kay wala ka-maneuver tungod sa traffic (I did not depend on CDRRMO since we had an experience just like this before, I readied a rescue team but the problem was that the team wasn’t able to maneuver because of the traffic)," Labuntog said.
In a Facebook post, Labuntog ranted that the City Government should have advised the public regarding the threat of flooding.
"Unsa diay function sa CDRRMO? Dapat sa radio, tv, facebook nagpahibalo na nga naay baha para walay ma stranded sa dalan (What’s the use of CDRRMO? They should have informed about the flooding through radio, tv and facebook so that no one would be stranded)," Labuntog wrote.
"Ang mayor or ang DepEd (Department of Education) pud ang makapa-cancel sa klase before pa unta nahitabo ang baha dili ang kapitan (The mayor or the DepEd should have been the one who cancelled the classes not the village chief)," Labuntog added.
Camaman-an village chairman Pete Arda said his village was similarly unprepared for the flood as it was sudden and quick.
"Pati akong mga rescuers wala na makaabot kay apil sila apektado (My rescuers weren’t able to do anything since they too were affected)," Arda said.
Arda was unsure if an advisory from CDRRMO reached his office.
For his part, CDRRMO officer Allan Porcadilla said efforts were made to reach all village officials but some of the village officials’ contact details were not updated.
"We have directory sa 80 barangays gitawagan nato pero ang uban dili makontak. Sige ta panawagan nga i-register nila ilang Smart line para makadawat sila sa atong advisory (of 80 villages, we tried to contact them but they were out of reach. We always summon them to register their Smart line so that they can receive our advisories)," Porcadilla said.
Porcadilla admitted that cancellation of ongoing classes was not made due to some protocols that had to be followed.
"Bisan schools wala ta kaabiso kay naay protocol sa pag-suspend sa klase. Unsaon pag-suspend sa klase nga naa sila sa schools alas 2 unya ang ulan nagsugod alas 2 ang baha nagsugod alas 3. Kalit-kalit siya (We weren’t able to warn the schools since we have a protocol on suspending of classes. How can we suspend if students were in their schools around 2 p.m. at the same time the rain started, then the flood began at 3 p.m.)," Porcadilla said.
In an earlier report, CDRRMO Weather Monitoring Chief Vergel Lago said at about 11 a.m. Monday, January 16, their office received the advisory from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration regarding two weather disturbances that subsequently caused the flooding.