President Marcos orders flood control in Bicol fast-tracked

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
President Marcos orders flood control in Bicol fast-tracked
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leads the distribution of the presidential assistance to farmers and fisherfolk in four provinces of the Bicol region (Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, and Masbate) at the Albay Astrodome, Legazpi City on June 7, 2024.
PPA pool photos by Niño Jesus Orbeta

MANILA, Philippines — To minimize the impact of typhoons and the looming La Niña on the Bicol region, President Marcos yesterday ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to expedite flood control projects in what is considered one of the most disaster-prone areas in the country.

The President gave the directive in his speech during the distribution of aid to El Niño-hit farmers and fisherfolk in Legazpi City, Albay.

He also directed local government units to brace for La Niña, which is characterized by excessive rainfall.

The government has rolled out preparedness measures with the onset of the rainy season, the President assured the public.

“You (LGUs) must also be prepared for strong typhoons that may hit the country and possible flooding,” he said in Filipino.

The President reminded local governments in Bicol to ensure there would be enough supply of food and other essential needs for those who would be displaced by weather disturbances.

In a speech in Pili, Camarines Sur earlier, Marcos ordered the DPWH to finish the flood control project at the Bicol River Basin to prevent massive flooding due to La Niña.

El Niño has ended but its impact on the country could continue at least in some parts, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in its latest report.

A transition to La Niña is likely between July and September, it added. The state weather bureau has officially declared the start of the rainy season.

Typhoon Aghon, which hit the country late last month, left six people dead and some P57.5 million in damage to agriculture.

Lone enemy

Also in Pili, Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III said Marcos remains focused on fighting poverty despite persistent attacks by his detractors.

Estrella, who accompanied Marcos during the distribution of land titles to agrarian reform beneficiaries, said poverty is the President’s lone “enemy.”

“There are many who probably don’t understand, throw mud, challenge (him)… They are saying anything that is not good about the President,” Estrella said.

“But my question is, did you see our President hit back?... because he values their rights because we are in a democratic country,” he said.

CLOAs, El Niño aid

The President led the distribution of land titles to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) as well as financial assistance amounting to P162 million to farmers and fisherfolk severely affected by El Niño in the Bicol region.

Of the figure, P10.28 million was turned over to Camarines Norte Gov. Ricarte Padilla and P50 million to Camarines Sur Gov. Luigi Villafuerte.

The President also distributed over P41.55 million in financial assistance to Albay Gov. Edcel Grex Lagman, P10.23 million to Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua, P36.79 million to Masbate Gov. Antonio Kho and P13 million to Sorsogon Gov. Jose Edwin Hamor in Legazpi City, Albay.

While authorities have seen no need to declare Bicol under a state of calamity, El Niño has affected around 80,479 families, or 368,360 individuals from 918 barangays in the region and left damage to agriculture amounting to P532.87 million.

Aside from the presidential assistance, the Department of Social Welfare and Development also distributed P10,000 each to 5,000 beneficiaries composed of farmers, fisherfolk and families.

Marcos also distributed a total of 1,208 Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) and electronic titles (e-titles) to 1,105 ARBs in Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.

In a speech in Pili, the President said DAR had already distributed about 30,000 CLOAs and electronic titles from January to May this year.

He said 36,000 more CLOAs and e-titles are expected to be turned over to ARBs before the end of the year.

During an event in Pili, Marcos was serenaded by children and grandchildren of beneficiaries, some of whom are octogenarians.

After their performance, the children asked the President for a selfie to which he immediately obliged.

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