Pangasinan town declares ‘state of calamity’

By Hilda Austria

September 19, 2018, 9:45 pm

SAN FABIAN, Pangasinan -- The municipal government has placed this town under state of calamity due to the PHP315-million damage to agriculture and infrastructure, and affecting more than 25,000 individuals due to Typhoon ‘Ompong’ (Mangkhut).

The Sangguniang Bayan members approved resolution no. 90, series of 2018 on Monday, noting the need for the local government unit to declare the municipality under state of calamity to entitle it to immediate attention by the proper authorities, and enable them to address properly the disastrous effects of the typhoon.

Engr. Lope Juguilon, head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said ‘Ompong’ caused PHP104.4 million damage to the town’s agriculture industry.

“Some 2,566 hectares (ha) of rice field were devastated, and some plantations of corn, other high-value crops, as well as aquaculture, were also destroyed,” Juguilon said in an interview on Wednesday.

He explained that the typhoon’s heavy rains, especially in Benguet province that is connected to the Bued River tributary of the town, have caused flash floods with depths of four to eight feet.

The flash floods affected not only the town’s agriculture, but also its infrastructure particularly the dike and even houses along the Bued River, Juguilon said.

“The sudden gush of water in the river from Tuba Benguet destroyed the 10-kilometer stretch dike here from Barangay Binday to Cayanga River, which left us with PHP200 million damage from it alone,” he said.

Juguilon further said the total damage to local infrastructure amounted to PHP211 million, which also includes the approach of Cayanga bridge that collapsed due to the rush of water, and five houses along the Bued River that were washed out, among others.

He clarified that the dam in the town is free-flowing, as it is intended for irrigation and not for power generation.

There was a misconception that circulated in the town about the alleged release of water from the dam that caused the sudden increased volume of water in the river.

Some barangays of the town were also flooded, forcing 1,012 families, or 4,431 individuals, to evacuate since Friday until Sunday morning.

Affected families totaled 7,181, or 25,564 individuals, Juguilon further said.

“As of Wednesday, there are no more flooded areas, the water subsided since Sunday and evacuees have returned to their homes. The declaration though would aid us in the relief operations and rehabilitations, although we only have minimal funds since we have already used some of the calamity funds during the recent disasters this year starting July,” he noted.

The municipal government has supported the approach of Cayanga bridge with landfill as a temporary solution to make it passable to light vehicles, Juguilon said.

“There were no casualties as we have implemented preemptive evacuation prior to the devastation of ‘Ompong’. There was an old man who died but we disregarded it as disaster-related since he was already ill prior to the calamity,” he added. (PNA)