Jan 16, 2014
Davao Oriental eyes massive relocation as bridges collapse, sinkhole appears
DAVAO CITY—The governor of Davao Oriental has appealed for national help after countless landslides, damaged bridges and a huge sinkhole cut off its eastern coastal towns days after a rain-heavy low pressure area submerged the areas facing the Pacific Ocean.
Thousands remained unreacheable as of Thursday, almost a week since Saturday’s flashfloods. Gov. Corazon Malanyaon said residents have been talking about a disaster “worse than [the effect of Typhoon] Pablo.”
Malanyaon aired her appeal over the government-run Radyo ng Bayan station here, after receiving reports that much damage was caused by rampaging waters carrying logs and tree debris that were not pulled out since Pablo in December 2012.
She said residents told her the loss of livelihood was much worse than the effect of Pablo and the “isolation is more massive now that we really need help from national government agencies.”
She could not give an estimate, but on Wednesday she said no fewer than 47,000 families were affected by the flood and the isolation.
She said transportation, especially trucks that carried relief goods, could only go as far as the third town up north from the capital city of Mati, as two bridges in Caraga town were damaged, including the main Manurigao Bridge.
On Wednesday Malanyaon said she has tapped the Philippine Navy to drop supplies to Baganga town, and from there, distribute the relief items to the isolated towns of Caraga, Cateel and Boston.
But more villages from other towns were also devastated, including the eastern coastal town of Manay, two towns up northeast of Mati. Malanyaon said a huge sinkhole, the width equivalent to two fully grown coconut trees and a depth of similar length, was reported in Purok 9, Barangay Macopa. But she said the exact dimension of land subsidence remained uncertain as local officials could not reach the area and isolated many its sitios remains.
She said she had conferred with the town mayor, who informed her of hiring 15 horses to distribute the goods to the isolated sitios.
Landslides and tree debris left unmoved after Pablo also blocked small roads and prevented access to many interior areas of Boston, Cateel and Caraga, “especially the tribal communities,” she said.
Meanwhile, she has already indicated her intention to compel local governments to permanently abandon all areas regularly flooded or damaged by flashfloods.
“We should not force [the residents] to resettle to these areas again. We have to permanently relocate,” she said.
From her enumeration of places that needed to be deserted, the permanent relocation appeared to be massive, with movement of residents expected in the eastern coastal towns of Manay, Caraga, Baganga, Cateel and Boston.
“I told their residents and their mayors not to force them to go back to their areas because they have been affected several times for a long time already,” she said. “No amount of flood control and putting up of dikes could solve the problem.”