Villagers, soldiers clear Maguindanao rivers from aquatic plants PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 12:03

Civilian and military volunteers on Sunday removed using farm tools some 10 tons of hyacinths blocking a river in Maguindanao’s Datu Odin Sinsuat town causing the inundation of nearby farming enclaves.

Floodwaters from upstream of the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta again flowed freely towards the Moro Gulf in the west coast of Cotabato City after farmers, barangay officials and members of the Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had removed the aquatic plants that tangled with the columns of a bridge connecting both banks of the Butilen River.

Soldiers from different units of the 6th Infantry Division also helped in the five-hour clearing operation, launched after government engineers warned of the possible collapse of the multi-million bridge due to pressure from rampaging flood waters and the weight of the hyacinths trapped in its steel columns.

The obstruction caused the Butilen River to overflow, inundating dozens of farming villages along its banks, affecting hundreds of peasant families.

The bridge connects farming folks in Taviran District in Datu Odin Sinsuat and in more than a dozen other barangays in Kabuntalan town, also in Maguindanao, to major trading centers in Cotabato City, about 20 kilometers away.

Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th ID, said he would have the portion of the river underneath the bridge monitored everyday by soldiers based in a battalion headquarters about a kilometer away.

The provincial board on Friday declared Maguindanao under state of calamity after floods hit 149 barangays in the province, spawned by incessant rains a week before.

The declaration covers 26 of the 36 towns in Maguindanao, according to Second District Board Member Bobby Katambak.

ARMM’s regional executive secretary, Laisa Alamia, who is helping oversee the operation of the HEART, said the floods in Maguindanao affected 43, 051 individuals, almost all of them ethnic Maguindanaons.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu told The Star via text message that the provincial relief team, led by his budget staff, Lynette Estandarte, was dispatched Monday morning to the adjoining Montawal and Pagalungan towns to disperse food rations to flood victims.

Mangudadatu said the food rations are comprised of rice, canned sardines, instant noodles, sugar and medicines for common ailments.

“We also have a medical team that will help attend to the needs of the flood victims,” Mangudadatu said.

He said his office will also provide relief assistance to villagers in other flooded towns, mostly along rivers and are dotted with swamps that connect to the Liguasan Delta, a geographical catch basin for waterways that spring from forested watersheds in surrounding provinces.