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Senator wants areas in Northern Mindanao placed under state of calamity

January 12, 2009 4:08pm

MANILA, Philippines - Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. on Monday urged President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to declare a state of calamity in the provinces in Northern Mindanao affected by flashfloods last week.

In a press statement, Pimentel said 30,000 people in Cagayan de Oro alone had been displaced and about 300 houses had been destroyed by rampaging floodwaters.

"If she has not yet done so, the President should declare a state of calamity in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and other parts of Northern Mindanao and move government aid to thousands displaced by the unusual flood," Pimentel said.

The senator, who is from Cagayan de Oro City, said the declaration of a state of calamity in the areas in Northern Mindanao would help facilitate the release of government assistance to the victims.

He said almost 20 percent of Cagayan de Oro City was submerged in water when the nearby Kagay-an River swelled within minutes.

Local disaster officials blamed logging and river quarrying for the flood. They said the floodwaters came from the mountains of Lanao and Bukidnon.

Pimentel said since the forests in the mountains have been denuded, there are no more big trees to absorb the water during heavy rains, causing flooding in downstream areas.

He said that Cagayan de Oro City and other low-lying areas became the holding basin of water flowing from the upland areas. On the other hand, the almost unregulated quarrying in the Kagay-an River has caused siltation and destroyed the natural flow of water.

Pimentel expressed alarm that the people in many parts of Mindanao are now suffering from the disastrous consequences of the wanton destruction of the forests by illegal loggers that has been going on over the last several decades. - Amita Legaspi, GMANews.TV
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