AFTER witnessing the massive damage of severe flooding and torrential rains in Bicol spawned by Super Typhoon Rolly, a party-list lawmaker on Wednesday sought better flood control structures in the region under a new master plan that will mitigate its impact.
“Hindi pwedeng puro relief efforts na lang tayo. Dapat long-term solutions ang isipin natin. Saan ba nanggagaling ang problema? Sa baha,” Ang Probinsyano Rep. Alfred Delos Santos, a friend and an ally of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) led by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez of Leyte, after visiting several areas battered by floods and rains in Bicolandia.
“What we have is the old master plan. But what we need right now, as this experience has shown us, is a feasibility study for a new master plan that will take into consideration climate change and the new realities. And we need it as soon as possible so we can respond immediately and properly when calamities come,” Delos Santos said.
Delos Santos said he specifically wants a new master plan to improve the flood control structures around the Bicol River Basin and Sabo Dam.
“Kapag natapos na ‘yan, magiging malinaw ang direction ng lahat ng construction ng flood control structures at dams. Ngayon nga nasiraan tayo ng isang dam kaya’t biglang taas ‘yung tubig so dapat maisaayos na agad ‘yung dokumento na kailangan para sa pagtatayo ng bagong dam at pagre-rebuild ng mga existing flood control structures,” Delos Santos explained.
As of Nov. 1, 2020, close to 400,000 people have been displaced by Rolly, with Albay and Camarines Sur bearing the brunt of the super typhoon.
About 30 municipalities and 180 barangays in these provinces have been affected based on government data.
According to Delos Santos, the government cannot always rely on the resiliency of Filipinos every after disaster, but should also do its part in making sure that projects are moving and being completed for the benefit of the people.
A master plan, if completed, will save not only precious government resources, but more importantly the lives of many Filipinos, he said.
“Bukod sa laki ng matitipid ng gobyerno, ang pinaka-importanteng benepisyo mula sa maitatayong flood control structures based sa master plan ay makakaiwas na tayo sa trahedyang pagkawala ng buhay ng ilan sa ating mga kababayan. We can actually save lives by expediting this project, kaya naman I am calling on the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) to help us realize this project. Pakiusap po ito para sa mga kababayan kong Bicolano. Hindi ko po kayang makita na paulit-ulit silang nasasalanta ng baha kung may solusyon naman,” Delos Santos said.
He added: “Ang disaster response po ay hindi lang ginagawa during and after ng sakuna. Inuunahan po dapat natin ang calamities sa pamamagitan ng paghahanda, kasama na diyan ang pag-construct ng mga istrukturang makakabawas sa epekto ng bagyo at baha.”
MAGSASAKA PARTY-LIST WANTS AID FOR FARMERS
Magsasaka party-list Rep. Argel Cabatbat, another friend and ally of Lakas-CMD, urged the concerned government agencies to provide assistance to farmers affected by super typhoon Rolly.
“We received many reports from our field officers, farmers’ organizations, and other stakeholders of the devastating conditions of the agricultural sector in places that Super Typhoon Rolly hit over the weekend. Small-scale rice farmers had to evacuate their houses, they lost their equipment and livestock, and they were forced to harvest their produce prematurely. These were done to save their livelihood, and more importantly their livelihood,” said Cabatbat.
“Patung-patong ang pagdurusa ng ating mga magsasaka at ng kanilang mga pamilya – nawalan ng tahanan, naihinto ang pag-aaral ng mga anak, hindi mapunan ng pagkain ang kanilang mga hapag, at lubhang nabawasan ang kanilang dapat kinita dahil sa puwersadong pag-ani ng mga palay at iba pang pananim. Kailangan nila ng mabilis na tulong dahil ang patung-patong na ang kanilang paghihirap bago pa man bumagyo, at kung hindi maaaksyunan ang kanilang mga hinaing ay maaaring ang malawakang salantang dulot ni bagyong Rolly na ang huling pako sa kanilang mga ataul,” Cabatbat said.
“We call the national government and our key-agencies to action, and ask them to meaningfully engage our farmers and think of their losses in the process of drawing disaster rehabilitation policies. Prioritizing the purchase of local rice, sourced directly from our farmers, can make-up the relief goods to be given to municipalities heavily hit by the typhoon. We also believe that provinces directly damaged should secure portions of the calamity fund for the farming sector –local farmers in the province must be identified and given cash relief, and provincial governments must allocate a portion of the calamity fund for the purchase of rice and agricultural products directly from their local farmers,” Cabatbat stressed.
“Our farmers’ strength of will must be complemented by actual government policies. Resilience is enabled by swiftly implemented and inclusive programs; it is not a default expectation so our people stop asking for what they truly deserve,” Cabatbat pointed out.