DAVAO CITY – The mayor of the municipality of Pigcawayan battered by flood has appealed to the national government to desilt major rivers and tributaries in Cotabato to prevent further flooding in the town.
Mayor Juanito Agustin said over 100 hectares of ricefield remain submerged even a week after severe flooding caused by tropical cyclone ‘’Paeng'' on Oct. 28.
Agustin said heavy siltation in rivers and tributaries not just in Pigcawayan but also in other areas in Central Mindanao has contributed to the flooding.
It was the worst flooding in the history of the town as many parts were submerged.
Due to continuous heavy rain, he observed that floodwater could no longer drain quickly to the Ligawasan Marsh because of silted waterways.
Ligawasan Marsh serves as the catch basin of all rivers from the mountains of Bukidnon province and Cotabato.
Over the years, Agustin said, the marsh has become silted and as a domino effect, all the rivers that drain to it have also become silted.
“This has contributed to the flooding in the riverside communities,” Agusin lamented. “The local government cannot do this alone, this requires a lot of resources. Thus, we are asking help from the national government to desilt the rivers in our province,” he appealed.
Agustin also suggested that the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the outlet of the Ligawasan Marsh, should also be desilted to enable water from rain in the highland to easily drain into the sea.
As part of further mitigating measures, Agustin urged his constituents to plant productive trees in mountainous areas.
“I always recommend to the land owners in the mountainous areas to plant productive trees like coconut and rubber. Then intercrop with cacao and coffee to help prevent soil erosion,” he said.
The local chief executive said it is better to plant these compared to hardwood varieties. “Because when these hardwood varieties reached its maturity, the people will still cut these for lumber. Or some would cut them down to produce charcoal. Unlike coconut and rubber, these could be their sources of income.”
Agustin added that it is high time to prepare for the worst flooding to come. ‘’Since severe flooding has already hit Pigcawayan, it could happen again in the future,” he warned.
He acknowledged that denuded mountains have caused the flooding but climate change is bringing in heavy rains resulting into severe flooding.
“We have to be prepared, always.”
As of Nov. 4, damage to agriculture from Paeng in Pigcawayan was P57 million.
About 700 hectares of agricultural land were damaged, 90 percent of which are planted to rice.
One person was killed, 105 houses were totally destroyed, and almost 6,000 families were affected by Paeng.
Three mountainous barangays are still partly isolated because of roads damaged due to landslides, according to the mayor.
Pigcawayan sits on the foot of the mountain ranges that sprawl across the boundary of the provinces of Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Cotabato and is one of the towns that surround the 220,000-hectare Ligawasan Marsh.