Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today urged local officials to familiarize themselves with the geohazard maps, and implement the necessary measures to reduce the impact of natural disasters on people’s lives and properties.
Paje made the appeal in wake of reports by the weather bureau that heavier rains are still expected until September despite the conclusion of La Nina this June.
On Thursday, PAGASA Supervising Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul announced the conclusion of La Nina in the country this June, but her residual effects, Ondoy-like rains, remain a possibility.
“Local officials should take heed of PAGASA’s warning of heavy rains. In the same way, they should familiarize themselves with their geohazard maps and take note of areas that are found to be highly susceptible to flooding and landslides,” Paje stressed.
Paje also strongly recommended to local government units to prohibit habitation in areas declared as “highly susceptible” to flooding and landslides by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR to protect people’s lives.
He cited as an example the Pangi river in Davao City that has overflowed following heavy rains, claiming 29 lives. According to Paje, the river has been declared as a flood-prone river in a geohazard study entitled, “Terrain Analysis of the Davao City Watershed”, conducted by the MGB-Region 12. As such, he said, the areas surrounding the Pangi river are declared in the geohazard map as “highly susceptible to flooding”.
Paje said that the MGB has already completed the geohazard assessment and mapping throughout the country, and has distributed geohazard maps with a scale of 1:50,000 to all local government units.
“We have also made the necessary orientation of our local officials. The only thing we ask of them is to revisit their geohazard maps, take note of the areas declared as highly susceptible to flooding and landslide, and consider these in their disaster plan,” Paje said.
Paje also advised the LGUs to monitor areas prone to flooding in their respective municipalities especially during heavy rains, and to install early warning system that will monitor water level in the rivers, like the one installed in the Marikina river.
Under the geohazard mapping project of the DENR, the following were identified as top 10 flood-prone provinces: Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Maguindanao, Bulacan, Metro Manila, North Cotabato, Oriental Mindoro, and Ilocos Norte.
The project has also identified flood-prone provinces along the Eastern Seaboard to include the following: Cagayan, Isabela, Aurora, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, eastern side of Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Davao Oriental.