COTABATO CITY: Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi is set to declare a state of calamity here if floodwaters brought about by heavy rains will continue to spread through low-lying barangay (villages).
Halima Satol-Ibrahim, chief city information officer, on Friday said the mayor is only waiting for the final flood assessment by the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council as basis for declaring the city under a state of calamity.
Sayadi has called on residents in flood-prone areas here to help monitor the water levels of rivers in their communities and to immediately evacuate if necessary.
“Forced evacuations will be imposed if the situation so requires,” the mayor said.
She added that their main priority is to provide flood victims with humanitarian support.
Rio Grande de Mindanao River straddling Cotabato City started to overflow last week, causing floods in 20 villages and affecting more than 12,000 residents.
City officials visited the submerged villages on Thursday and distributed relief goods to flood-stricken Muslim, Christian and lumad (indigenous people) residents.
The city’s 37 villages are crisscrossed by tributaries of the Rio Grande de Mindanao and many other large rivers that link them to the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta in the upper valley of Central Mindanao.
The Liguasan Delta is a catch basin for rain-generated floodwaters from mountain ranges in North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon provinces.
The City Schools Division plans to conduct special classes in safer areas for children from 10 schools located in flooded villages.
Ibrahim said the mayor also ordered the deployment of health workers to attend to flood victims afflicted with common ailments.
Affected village residents have urged the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) headed by Abul Khayr Alonto, whose main office is in Davao City, to focus on immediate dredging of rivers that got silted over time.
The MINDA has a flood-control and management program for Central Mindanao but people in the region have long been urging the agency to address the problem.
According to experts, floodwaters from higher grounds in Central Mindanao first converge in inter-connected rivers and swamps in Cotabato City before flowing downstream to the city’s western coast to drain at the Moro Gulf.