San Fabian, Pangasinan—The municipal government has placed this town under state of calamity due to P315 million in damage to agriculture and infrastructure, and affecting more than 25,000 individuals due to Typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut).
The Sangguniang Bayan members approved Resolution No. 90, series of 2018 on Monday, noting the need for the local government unit to declare the municipality under state of calamity to entitle it to immediate attention by the proper authorities, and enable them to address properly the disastrous effects of the typhoon.
Engineer Lope Juguilon, head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said Ompong caused P104.4 million in damage to the town’s agriculture industry.
“Some 2,566 hectares of rice field were devastated, and some plantations of corn, other high-value crops, as well as aquaculture, were also destroyed,” Juguilon said Wednesday.
The typhoon’s heavy rains, especially in Benguet province that is connected to the Bued River tributary of the town, have caused flash floods with depths of four to eight feet, he added.
Meanwhile, in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, as the death toll of Ompong continued to rise in neighboring Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Carlos Padilla was “jubilant” when Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu swiftly issued an order to check mining operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
“The order of DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to stop small-scale mining operations in the Cordilleras in the wake of a tragedy brought by Typhoon Ompong is a timely move,” Padilla said.
The situation of Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet is very similar, he noted, as both provinces have identified many geohazard areas due to their mountainous topography.
“Aside from sharing a common border and similar terrain, we have our share of Typhoon Ompong casualties in Kayapa, and I am worried that if mining will continue to endanger our fragile mountains, we would either suffer sudden death in times of disasters or die from hunger for either loss or contamination of water,” Padilla said.
The flash floods in San Fabian affected not only the town’s agriculture, but also its infrastructure particularly the dike and even houses along the Bued River, Juguilon said.
“The sudden gush of water in the river from Tuba, Benguet destroyed the 10-kilometer stretch dike here from Barangay Binday to Cayanga River, which left us with P200 million damage from it alone,” he said.
The total damage to local infrastructure amounted to PHP211 million, which also includes the approach of Cayanga bridge that collapsed due to the rush of water, and five houses along the Bued River that were washed out, among others, Juguilon added.
He clarified that the dam in the town is free-flowing, as it is intended for irrigation and not for power generation, contrary to belief in the town that the release of water from the dam caused the sudden increased volume of water in the river.
Some barangays of the town were also flooded, forcing 1,012 families, or 4,431 individuals, to evacuate since Friday until Sunday morning.
Affected families totaled 7,181, or 25,564 individuals, Juguilon added.
“As of Wednesday, there are no more flooded areas, the water subsided since Sunday and evacuees have returned to their homes. The declaration though would aid us in the relief operations and rehabilitations, although we only have minimal funds since we have already used some of the calamity funds during the recent disasters this year starting July,” he noted.
The municipal government has supported the approach of Cayanga bridge with landfill as a temporary solution to make it passable to light vehicles, Juguilon said.
“There were no casualties as we have implemented preemptive evacuation prior to the devastation of ‘Ompong’. There was an old man who died but we disregarded it as disaster-related since he was already ill prior to the calamity,” he added. With PNA