STORM BASYANG | Tandag Bishop calls for probe of calamitous Caraga flooding

February 17, 2018 - 9:51 PM
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Flooding in Surigao del Sur during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Basyang in 2017. (Photograph from detail of picture posted by Facebook user Pulsefm_Sanfranz)

The Bishop of Tandag, Most Rev. Nereo P. Odchimar, DD, JCD, MBA on Sunday released a statement to news outlets calling for a multilateral investigation into the disastrous flooding in Caraga Region during the recent passage of Tropical Storm Basyang.

The storm that hit Surigao del Sur on February 13 brought “untold suffering among the people, especially in the areas of Cantilan and Carrascal, where a flash flood swept houses away, destroyed several hundred hectares of riceland, and caused at least 5 deaths, and injury to many others.

“Many residents are calling for an investigation into the reasons why the flood came so fast … and that is some areas a number of logs and felled trees were swept downstream, destroying houses and other physical structures along the way.

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“There were claims that siltation ponds have collapsed in some mining sites, causing the rush of floodwaters downstream. Social media is now filled with pictures showing the extent of devastation in several barangays, especially Barangay Babuyan, Gamuton, and Panikian in Carrascal, and Barangay Buntalid, Cabas-an and Parang in Cantilan.

“Some sectors have also pointed out that the flooding in Cortes, Lanuza, Carmen and Madrid were qualitatively different from the inundation that devastated Cantilan and Carrascal.

“The downpour during Basyang was way below compared to the people’s experience of walo-walo or eight days of raining without letup.

“Could the reason be due to the massive mining operations that denuded the natural forested mountains and critical watershed of Cantilan and Carrascal?

“For this reason we call for an immediate and independent investigation on the flooding in CARCANMADCARLAN, particularly on the much-affected parts of Cantilan and Carrascal. We therefore call on the DENR, regional and national offices, civil society groups and organizations, and other relevant institutions and government agencies, to organize a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary team that will look intently into the matter.

“We continue to pray for the victims of the calamity. We seek justice for the economic wreckage on agriculture.”