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Barangay chairperson halts relief distribution in Isabela, insists on taking over

An Ilagan City barangay chairperson prevented relief delivery to flood victims in her community and ordered the confiscation of food items for distribution last Thursday, November 19, a regional farmers group reported.

Hacienda Sta. Isabel Norte chairperson Leonora Uy allegedly ordered a stop to the humanitarian activity for hundreds of farmers in her barangay after allowing photos to be taken of only a few residents receiving food items, the group Danggayan iti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley (Danggayan) said on its Facebook page.

Danggayan said it properly coordinated with Uy on the relief activity who in turn suggested it be held at the barangay covered court “in order for the facility to be of some use.”

Relief goods being readied for distribution but were ordered confiscated by a local executive. (Danggayan photo)

The barangay executive also wanted that all residents should be recipients of the activity, prompting the relief workers to divide each pack into two to benefit twice as many families and accommodate Uy’s wishes.

But the chairperson ordered the relief items to be confiscated after photos have been taken of 10 beneficiaries receiving them, the farmers group said.

Photo ops lang pala ang pinayagan,” Danggayan said in a statement. (She only allowed the photo opportunity, it turns out.)

Uy reportedly said the barangay would re-pack the relief goods and take over the distribution.

Danggayan said the farmers disagreed, sure that many would later be denied the relief items.

“Ayon sa kapitan, kung hindi daw i-turn over sa kanya ang ayudang pagkain ay i-pull out na lang ito dahil hindi naman daw siya humiling ng ayudang pagkain. Pati ang mineral water ay ayaw siyang pumayag na ipamigay sa mga residente,” Danggayan reported. (According to Uy, the relief food items should be pulled out if these would not be turned over to them as she did not ask for them in the first place. She even refused to have drinking water distributed to the residents.)


The local executive even refused the distribution of drinking water to flood victims. (Danggayan photo)

The group said Uy’s decision angered residents and decided to continue the distribution at the house of farmer-leaders.

Two barangay councilors reportedly disagreed with Uy’s decision and helped in the distribution.

The relief items, worth PhP200,000 were donated by local groups Dagami, Tulong Kabataan, Tulong Sulong CV, Cagayan Valley Disaster Response Center Inc. and others. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(Efforts to seek Uy’s comment failed as her supporters refuse to give the executive’s contact details. Kodao is still seeking ways to talk to Uy.)

Worst flooding in decades: Cagayan Valley’s turn to cry for help

It is Cagayan Valley’s turn to cry for help as the swollen Cagayan River submerged many barangays along its banks that led to the region’s worst flooding in decades.

As heavy rains brought by Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) inundated the region, Magat Dam has opened seven of its floodgates since Thursday, further swelling the country’s biggest river system and bringing near unprecedented flooding of communities from Central Isabela all the way to Aparri, Cagayan.

Infographic by PDRRMC Isabela

Hundreds of victims have spent days on their roofs, crying out to be rescued or be brought drinking water and food.

Local government units seemed overwhelmed and powerless, admitting they lack the equipment and personnel to deal with the crisis.

Even the region’s economic center, Tuguegarao City in Cagayan Province, is hard hit by the flooding with several of its barangays submerged in 15 feet of flood.

Water level reached as high as 13 meters at the city’s Buntun Bridge and the mighty river looked like the Pacific Ocean, Cagayan Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Ascio Macalan said on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

Cagayan Provincial Risk Reduction Management Management Council (PDRRMC) reported eight deaths, and five injuries due to the flooding as of Saturday morning.

In a separate radio interview, Cagayan governor Manuel Mamba said several portions of the Maharlika Highway are impassable, hampering rescue and relief operations on nearly all municipalities located along the banks of the Cagayan River.

The local executive said that aside from the excess water continuously being released by the Dam, all from the Sierra Madre, Caraballo and Cordillera mountain ranges drain into the Cagayan River, worsening the flooding.

Cagayan River was already swollen due to incessant rains since Supertyphoon Rolly, and Typhoons Sonia and Tonyo.

“It has been two weeks since this (flooding) started,” the governor said.

Mamba said he already asked the Provincial Board to be declared Cagayan under a state of calamity, admitting that its calamity fund has already been exhausted from its coronavirus pandemic operations and earlier floods.

In San Pablo, Isabela, Barangay Auitan residents report of the worst flooding since the early 1980s and complain of lack of rescue and relief operations.

Residents with single-storey houses have evacuated to houses with upper floors but many victims have remained on their roofs, neighbors with boats failing to rescue them due to strong currents.

Flooding in San Pablo, Isabela. (Photo by Ninz Khalifa Mesa)

Some victims have been wet and hungry for at least two days already.

Only two Magat Dam floodgates remain open as of Saturday morning and the flood has receded by three inches, relatives of victims said on Facebook.

#CagayanNeedsHelp and #IsabelaNeedsHelp have trended on Twitter, highlighting the desperation of victims and their worried relatives in Metro Manila.

Rescue and relief plans have yet to be announced by the national government, still busy with similar operations in the Bicol, Southern Tagalog (ST), Central Luzon and National Capital Region (NCR).

Typhoon Ulysses floods in Northern Rizal Province, Marikina, as well as parts of Bulacan Province and other NCR provinces have exceeded 2009’s Tropical Storm Ondoy, reports said, overstretching rescue and relief operations of both local and national governments.

Meanwhile, several church groups and activist organizations have begun their relief operations in affected areas in Bicol, ST and NCR on top of bringing relief to the victims of the massive fire in Bacoor, Cavite at the height of Super Typhoon Rolly. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Cagayanos want blacksand mining ‘disguised as dredging’ stopped

By ACE ALEGRE
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Cagayanos asked President Rodrigo Duterte’s help in stopping dredging activities at the mouth of Cagayan River they said is “disguised” magnetite mining.

The Cagayan Province Provincial Board approved last August 7 a resolution asking the president to suspend the dredging operations at the mouth of the Cagayan River in Aparri town.

This came after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) confirmed that it did not issue any dredging permit to the private firm involved in the dredging.

Pacific Offshore Exploration Inc.  (POEI), a firm owned by a former Isabela town mayor, has been dredging the country’s biggest river system for months.

The company reportedly ships the dredged materials to a reclamation project in Hong Kong and may earn about $50 million monthly if it sells the sand at current local prices, according to the resolution.

A cubic meter of sand in Cagayan is being sold at P160 to P180.

The exportation of black sand to Hong Kong was met with protests from locals.

Provincial Board member and resolution author Mila Lauigan said the deal with the dredgers has to be investigated.

“That is why we are appealing to the President to immediately suspend the dredging operations and inquire whether the company has complied with all the requirements before it proceeds,” Lauigan said.

According to the provincial legislator, “the contractor is only extracting black sand and leaves waste (non-mineral sand) material back into the river.”

It is reason why environmentalists and locals are raising heaven and hell [while] Gov. Manuel Mamba had been defending POEI’s operations amidst the environmental mess it has been causing, she said.

Mamba’s camp had been defending the dredging operation they said is meant to prepare for the reopening the Port of Aparri.

Mamba said the port’s reopening would improve economic and trade relations between Cagayan province and China as well as neighboring Asian countries.

Mamba, who entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Pacific Offshore Exploration Inc. (POEI) under the authority of a resolution passed by the Cagayan Provincial Board last January, insists there is only dredging activities in the area and not magnetite (black sand) mining.

The provincial board has yet to be shown a copy of the memorandum of agreement between Mamba and POEI.

Mamba’s camp said there is no economic value to the exportation and the dredging activities help clear the river of heavy silt for free.

Engr. Mario Ancheta of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau agreed with the governor that there is no mining but dredging operations that should be sanctioned by the DPWH.

“There is sand extraction, but it is not mining but dredging,” Ancheta said.

The Cagayan Export Zone Authority (CEZA), meanwhile, had been silent on the controversial dredging and “exporting” of the dredged sand to HK.

Immigration officials and the maritime police in Cagayan are also silent on the presence of foreign workers on the sand barges regularly approaching the shores of Aparri town. # (With additional reports from Raymund B. Villanueva) nordis.net / Photo from Gising Cagayan Facebook Page