Authorities seek preemptive evacuation as floods hit Davao City, Banaybanay town

Jul. 05, 2012

“We’re asking the local government, especially the Mayor (Sara Duterte), to force these residents to vacate the area because it’s a danger zone,”– Brgy. Capt. Robert Olanolan, Bucana, Davao City

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Their homes were shattered with monsoon floods Wednesday, but instead of sustained relief and rehabilitation assistance, city authorities want urban poor settlers along the city’s coastal areas out of the affected vicinities.

In Davao Oriental, disaster authorities are also poised to order preemptive evacuation once floods and inundation continue to worsen.

The first in the series of monsoon flooding this month affected 31 families in Aroma, Times Beach in Bucana village, Purok 59 in NHA, Pag-ibig in Dumoy village, Agdao and Salmonan.  In Banay banay town, 114 families were affected with Wednesday floods.

“We’re asking the local government, especially the Mayor (Sara Duterte), to force these residents to vacate the area because it’s a danger zone,” Robert Olanolan, Bucana village captain, said.

Olanolan said it would be better if the government can provide relocation for the victims, saying, “we can only extend help like providing them food and evacuation center, and these are not for long.”

Fifty-four individuals were affected with the recent attack of monsoon waves in Bucana village and are currently seeking refuge near the village hall in SIR village in Matina.  Other unaccounted victims are still living along the coastal shore.

“They are really stubborn.  We have long prohibited putting up homes there.  But they just ignored our warning,” Olanolan told Davao Today, adding, he was unaware there were shanties in the area.

Olanonlan said his office has coordinated with the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) and they’ve reached an agreement that no financial assistance will be given to the victims, otherwise, “we will be tolerating their illegal activity.”

Reacting to Olanolan’s statement, Ariel Casilao, national executive vice-president of Bayan Muna told Davao Today that, “while Davao City is the largest in terms of land coverage, there are a lot of families forced to live in danger zone areas due to lack of opportunities and access to affordable housing.”

He said that while Olanolan considered some settlers as not original city residents, “this should not be made basis for eviction.  Migration problem is part of the over-all poverty problem and the lack of economic opportunities.  Instead of treating them as eyesores, why not address the very reason why they are forced to live in these dangerous areas?  Indeed, the Aquino government has tremendously failed with its economic policies.”

Early Wednesday, big waves due to southwest monsoon shattered urban poor houses mostly composed of makeshifts from wood and cellophanes.

According to Luz Parañal, CSSDO Social Welfare Assistant, two houses were totally damaged while three were partially damaged in Aroma, Times Beach.  Three houses were totally damaged in Purok 59, NHA.  Nine houses were totally damaged and six were partially damaged in Pag-ibig, Dumoy.  In Agdao, three families were affected while five families were affected in Salmonan.  They were given assistance relief goods such as rice, sardines noodles and cooking utensils.

Every year, usually from June to September, the Bucana coastal area is attacked with monsoon waves.  More and bigger attacks are expected, according to Olanolan.

Davao Oriental flash floods

While Davao residents put up with the monsoon waves, 114 families were forced to evacuate their homes as flashfloods hit four villages in the municipality of Banaybanay, Davao Oriental, at Wednesday dawn.

“Fortunately there was no casualty,” Antonio Cloma, Office of the Civil Defense-XI (OCD-XI) Operations Officer, said.  “Affected residents in the villages of Piso, Panikian, Cabangcalan and Calubihan were able to return home as the floods subsided by afternoon,” he added.

He expressed surprise as to why Banaybanay was the only town affected with the flashfloods.  “Based on our assessment, the thick clouds yesterday were just concentrated in that area,” he said.

“But the weather (in Banaybanay) is improving, so there’s little risk for the flashflood to recur,” Cloma said.

Once any sign of continued flashfloods is observed, Cloma said the head of the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has the authority to “implement preemptive evacuation.”

As the region suffers flooding, Francis Morales, secretary general of environmental group Panalipdan, said the country is facing a climate crisis because of the wanton destruction of the country’s environment by big and foreign corporations.

Morales scored the destructive large-scale mining and logging, and plunder of natural resources by first world countries against the third world countries like the Philippines.

“The sad part is, it is the poor who suffer the ill-effects of this environmental destruction by big and foreign corporations who colluded with their local counterparts.  And, it is facilitated by the policies of our own government,” Morales said.  (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/

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