PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has instructed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to fast-track the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by heavy rains particularly in the province of Misamis Occidental.

The DPWH was also directed to study how to address the flooding experienced in Misamis Occidental.

Marcos visited the province in Mindanao on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, after it was badly affected by torrential rains over the past weeks.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the downpour was due to the shear line and trough of a low pressure area (LPA).

Marcos also led the distribution of some P16.04 million worth of assistance to affected families in the province.

Due to inclement weather, the plane carrying Marcos attempted to land three times before touching down Wednesday.

The bad weather also prevented him from doing ocular inspection over Oroquieta City to see the extent of the devastation.

In a briefing with local government executives, Marcos ordered the DPWH to determine what caused the flood in the province and work with concerned agencies, as well as foreign counterparts, particularly Japan, to address it.

“Kaya naman titingnan natin ang lahat para gumawa tayo ng solusyon. Patuloy tayong maghuhukay sa mga ilog para gawing malalim, para hindi mabilis na — mabilis na lumabas ang tubig sa ilog at patuloy natin patitibayin ang mga flood control natin,” he said.

(That’s why we will look at everything to make a solution. We will continue to dredge the rivers to make them deep, so that the water does not come out of the river quickly and we will continue to strengthen our flood controls.)

“Ngunit, sa long-term kailangan nating isipin kung papaano natin gagawin para hindi na talaga maulit. Wala na tayong risk na ganito ang mangyari,” he added.

(But in the long-term, we need to think about how we can do it so that it never happens again. We don’t have the risk of this happening anymore.)

Local officials raised the idea of constructing an infrastructure that will divert the water running through a river to lessen the flooding in Clarin town, noting that the weeks of heavy downpour has damaged bridges and other infrastructure, including the flood control system constructed by the government.

In a situational report issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on January 11, the agency said a total of 185,826 families or 743,956 individuals were affected by the effects of shear line in Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Caraga and Bangsamoro region.

Of the affected population, 3,617 families or 11,853 individuals were displaced.

The disaster bureau said 52 people were dead while 18 were still missing.

Over P273 million worth of infrastructure and more than P425 million worth of agriculture were damaged.

It said a total of P129,341,032.02 worth of assistance have already been provided to the affected population.

In a separate report, the NDRRMC reported 10 deaths due to the effects of low pressure areas that affected Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region and Bangsamoro since January 2.

It said the LPA also affected 69,308 families or 291,826 individuals and displaced 784 families or 3,224 individuals.

The cost of damage in infrastructure was at P153,066,260 while P111,738,324.31 in agriculture.

The agency said P11,931,324 worth of assistance have been provided to the affected population.

In Misamis Occidental, 16,013 families or 56,853 persons were affected by the bad weather in 155 barangays.

Of the number, 3,122 families or 9,928 persons were taking temporary shelter in 41 evacuation centers.

Twenty deaths have already been recorded, including eight in Oroquieta City.

Marcos directed the National Housing Authority (NHA) to find a resettlement area for Misamis Occidental residents whose houses were destroyed by the recent floods.

“Nag-coordinate na kami sa National Housing Authority. ‘Yung mga bahay na totally destroyed, hahanapan natin ng resettlement area para magkaroon ng tirahan,” he said.

(We have coordinated with the National Housing Authority. Those houses that were totally destroyed, we will find a resettlement area to have a place to live.)

“So ‘yan ang ating mga gagawin… sa darating na ilang linggo kaya’t asahan ho ninyo, kung mayroon kayong pangangailangan, nandito po si governor, nandito po si congressman, nandito po ang ating mga ahensya,” he added.

(So that’s what we’re going to do… in the next few weeks, so expect, if you have a need, the governor will be here, the congressman will be here, our agencies will be here.)

He also assured the continuity of government assistance to the affected population such as relief goods, potable water, clothing, and temporary shelter. (SunStar Philippines)