Floods Philippines, June 2013

Storm Leepi, which goes by the name Emong locally, appears to be moving northwards but heavy rainfall is still forecast. It is estimated that within a 400km radius, Emong could shed 5 to 15mm of rain in an hour. Many areas of the Philippines have already experienced the torrential rainfall. Manila for example, had 8cm in 24 hours. Some places have seen as much as 10cm or more. Further heavy rain is expected in the coming days. This is the fourth storm of the north west Pacific typhoon season has brought flooding to the Philippines.

So far, Emong has flooded five southern Philippine provinces – Maguindanao (in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – ARMM), Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and Davao. Nearly 100,000 people have been displaced by floods in the southern Philippines. Over 60,000 of those have been evacuated from their homes as a result of floods in Maguindanao, although earlier reports had the numbers much higher.

Jean Ayupan, operations officer of the ARMM’s Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, said:

“The swelling of heavily silted waterways surrounding the vast Liguasan Marsh has inundated the towns of Pagalungan, Montawal, Sultan sa Barongis, Rajah Buayan and Datu Paglas since June 14 and there are 12,390 families affected,”

It is thought that other villages, including Kabuntalan, Datu Piang and Mamasapano are also flooded. Schools in the region have been closed. Transport and other infrastructure has been damaged and agriculture has suffered. Food, medicine and other basic needs are being provided to those displaced by the provincial and regional governments. However, funds for such disasters are running in short supply after the floods of 2012. Bainon Karon, ARMM social welfare secretary, said:

“This is admittedly a limited relief assistance due to dwindling funds because we had our hands full in 2012 when we assisted some 2.4 million victims of natural and man-made calamities in the ARMM,”

Where evacuation centres are full or too far away, people displaced by the floods have been setting up makeshift camps on the roadsides. Some of the displaced have complained of not having sufficient food and other supplies in evacuation centres.

Elsewhere in the Philippines, after the Metro Manila authorities were criticised regarding the drainage system in the capital, the Metro Manila Development Authority has asked the city’s public works department to speed up drainage repairs in 70 places across the city.

But Manila’s politicians also fought back after the criticism of the city’s drainage system. Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said:

“In a way, we can blame the people because they shouldn’t be clogging roads with their trash.”

Sources: Inquirer; Business Week; ABC Australia; Al Jazeera

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