TONS of garbage continues to pile up in several creeks causing floods that affect thousands of residents.

In the flood-prone area of Barangay Lapasan, residents and business establishments near the Bitan-ag Creek are threatened by inundation as mounds of rubbish continue to accumulate to mountainous proportions at the silted creek.

The creek's garbage problem is worse along the stretch of Osmeña Extension and Agora Road, and 48-year-old Salvando Lopez is pointing the blame on unabated dumping of wastes and the local government's disregard of its upkeep.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

"We don't throw garbage in the creek because we know the consequence. It's the residents on the upper portion of the creek that's using it as their garbage disposal area," said Lopez in the dialect.

While improper garbage disposable is a practice that seems impossible to stop, Lopez said the garbage problem in the creek would not have worsened if the local government had not stopped doing routine cleanup.

"Walay pagpakabana ang gobiyerno (The government has not paid attention to this)," he lamented.

Lopez's lament is something that a former village official in the area can relate to.

Jun Rosal, a former chairman in Barangay 22, recalled that during the Magtajas administration in the late 90s, the Bitan-ag Creek was "in its standard deep."

"The creek was clean because it was properly maintained by the City Engineers Office," he told the Sun.Star. "Now, the local government no longer maintains the creek. Our children can even play on the garbage heap without fear of drowning."

A moderate downpour, he said, was enough to submerge the whole barangay with waist-deep water. Their fears are heightened by the successive rains in the past three days.

During the January 2009 flashfloods, Barangays 22, 26 and Lapasan were among the greatly affected areas.

What's disheartening, he said, is that the situation is already known to Councilor Caesar Ian Acenas the chairman of the committee on environment at the City Council.

"The portion of the creek that is being overrun by garbage is near his (Acenas) church," he said. "It's impossible for him not to see the problem because you can't get to his church without passing the tons of garbage at the creek."

Attempts to contact Acenas Thursday afternoon failed.

Officials of Barangays 22, 26 and Lapasan have said they have been requesting the cleanup of the creek but failed to avail.

Personnel who answered the phone at the City Engineer's Office said their equipment are now being used for road repair in hinterland barangays.

"We'll check on their request but right now, we have no equipment available for that," said the City Engineer's personnel who asked that his name not be used because he was not allowed to speak on the matter. Officials of the agency were not immediately available for interview Thursday.

Bitan-ag Creek is only among the several creeks in Cagayan de Oro. It is, however, the biggest traversing several downtown and sub-urban barangays, all which are facing serious flood risk as the creek continues to accumulate mountainous proportions of wastes.

It doesn't help that the creek is shrinking because it has been reclaimed by illegal settlers or landowners near these natural spillways. As a result, the creek swells during heavy downpours and inundates even major streets in the downtown area.

Last month, a patient from Bukidnon died because the ambulance carrying him was stuck along the flood-prone Lapasan highway.

Since Sunday, Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental are experiencing yet another intermittent downpour which, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), is due to a low pressure area (LPA).

Lito Belarmino, weather forecaster at Pagasa, said the intermittent rain will be experienced until Sunday, January 17.

"The rain is due to the trough of the LPA extending across Mindanao. Based on our forecast, this will last for three more days," Belarmino said.

He called on the people to be extra vigilant since the LPA might develop into a tropical storm which might also affect Cagayan de Oro.

"Posible nga motaas kini ug posible nga maigo kita dinhi tungod kay duol man ang atong position," Belarmino warned, citing experiences from last year's flashfloods.