TWO typhoons and heavy monsoon rains left P2.6 billion in agricultural damage and ravaged more than 126,705 hectares of farmland in Luzon, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported on Thursday.
The death toll in the aftermath of typhoon Maring (international codename: Trami), on the other hand, stood at 17 as of Thursday, with four persons still missing.
The latest fatality was a 69-year-old man from Nueva Ecija.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that as of August 22, agriculture losses were reported in six regions following heavy rains spawned by Typhoon Labuyo and storm Maring, affecting the southwest monsoon.
The good news, Alcala said, is that the damage “has no major impact in relation to our annual national target. In fact, there will be no areas lost, but only delays in production since we have already released emergency planting requirement to affected farmers.”
Undersecretary Dante Delima, who is also the National Rice Program coordinator, said the corn sector suffered the biggest damage at P2.1 billion, followed by rice at P484.4 million and banana at P130.7 million.
Other commodities affected were high value crops, fisheries and livestock posting damage of P7 million, P1.7 million and P4.6 million, respectively.
Delima said the total damage from typhoons in the third quarter of 2013 exceeded the P2.02 billion recorded a year ago.
But he said that farmers—particularly those planting rice in Region 3—were covered by insurance under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) and they can easily replace damaged crops.
1.7 million affected
In Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesman Maj. Rey Balido said that about 1.7 million people were affected by the calamity.
Floods covered 1,181 barangays of 112 municipalities, 31 cities and 16 provinces of Regions 1, 3, 4-A, 4–B, Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), and National Capital Region (NCR).
Balido said 662 areas in 88 municipalities and cities remain submerged. The floods also closed 72 roads and two bridges.
Under a state of calamity were the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, the cities of Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Marikina, Pasay, Candon,, Dagupan, and Tarlac.
The towns of Pateros, Narvacan, Gregorio del Pilar, and Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur; Sta. Barbara and Calasiao, Pangasinan, Obando and Hagonoy, Bulacan; and Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occ. and Barangays Victoria, Lagna, and Sablayan, also in Mindoro Occidental.
Flood fund probe
A congressman sought an inquiry into the use of the funds allocated for flood control projects.
BayanMuna Rep. Neri Colmenares said that although some local government units (LGUs) were prompt in responding to the calamity, the “main question” is “where did the billions of flood control funds go?”
“There must be an accounting of this presidential pork,” Colmenares said.
According to the 2014 National Expenditure Program data, the president’s special purpose funds (SPF) amount to P310 billion. It includes an P19.7 billion allocation to LGU’s, P7.5 billion calamity fund, and P1 billion contingency fund.
Colmenares said he also wants to scrutinize the ambitious P351.718-billion flood control master plan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The master plan mainly aims to rehabilitate 15 major pumping stations and drainage channels in Metro Manila and restore its surrounding natural waterways. It also plans to revive dredging and the construction of dikes in the Laguna Lake.
The plan was approved last year and projects in Camanava, Marikina, Pasig, and Manila were started in December 2012 and January 2013.
Also on Thursday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd visited typhoon-hit areas in the province of Cavite.
The President’s first stop was the Tinabunan Elementary School in Imus town, where around 178 families were temporarily housed.
He then proceeded to Kawit to distribute relief items to over a hundred families at the Binakayan High School.
The President was accompanied by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, former Cavite Representative Ayong Maliksi and other government officials.
He also revealed the government’s plan to construct a “road-ring dike” around Laguna de Bay to slow down the rise of floodwaters.
According to Singson, the project is part of the long-term solutions included in the Master Plan for Flood Management of Metro Manila and Laguna Lake.
“We refer to the road dike as C6 Extension to Laguna,” Singson said, adding that the Department of Public Works and Highways “has completed the Business Case study and will put the project under BOT implementation to be submitted to NEDA for approval.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Washington urged the Filipino-American community there to help the victims of the ferry tragedy off the coast of Cebu and those affected by the recent natural calamities.
Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. appealed to the community to provide financial assistance and support the relief efforts for the victims of the two tragedies.
“I wish to call on all Filipino Americans to do what you can to alleviate the suffering of the victims caused by these disasters that took plays just hours apart from each other,” he said.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday intensified its clean up drive in areas affected by widespread flooding.
MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez said the agency’s Metro Parkways Clearing Group and the local government of Manila have been working since Monday to clean up the areas affected by the flooding in the city.
She said the group has already hauled 15 truckloads of garbage left by the flooding along Roxas Boulevard and in the coastline of Manila Bay.
The garbage collected by the team was composed mostly of plastic items and pieces of wood.
Jimenez called on the public to help the government by not making the waterways as their personal trash bins.
Following the procedures of segregation will go a long way in reducing the tons of garbage in the waterways that also clogs pumping stations.
MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group Chief Francis Martinez said the volume of garbage collected this year is lower compared to the more than 150 truckloads of trash collected last year.
He said the garbage collected came from areas around the Manila Bay like Parañaque, Pasay, Manila and Navotas and as far as the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan and Bataan which were also flooded.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said recovering from this year’s monsoon rain will take longer.
“This year’s habagat has intermitent intervals. The recovery time may take longer,” he said.
Tolentino said only parts of Muntinlupa and the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area remain flooded as of Thursday.
At the same time, he asked the Intramuros Administration (IA) to pump floodwater from the streets to the Pasig River after the Lagusnilad underpass was submerged at the height of the monsoon rains.
He said he learned that the Club Intramuros was discharging excess water from the golf course to P. Burgos Street and Victoria Street.
“This discharge of water from the golf course to the Lagusnilad Underpass and P. Burgos Street, Victoria Street has caused and continue to cause our deflooding efforts to be greatly delayed, if not caused the area to remain flooded despite all our pumping efforts,” Tolentino said.
Also on Thursday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that more officers have been deployed to guard flood-stricken areas in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
As of Wednesday night, around 444 police rescue personnel have been deployed in more than 490 flood-affected villages in nine affected provinces and city in Central Luzon.
In Marikina City, over 3,000 families were still in evacuation centers.
As of 1:07 p.m. yesterday, the level of the Marikina River had dropped to 16.2 meters.
WITH REPORTS FROM BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON AND ANTHONY VARGAS