YEARENDER: Southern Metro still reeling from floods

- Rhodina Villanueva -

MANILA, Philippines - Three months after tropical storm “Ondoy” devastated Metro Manila, residents in the southern part of the region are still reeling from its effects.

Hundreds of families celebrated Christmas away from their homes as cities flooded by Ondoy last Sept. 26 continued their cleanup and rehabilitation.

The cities of Pasay, Muntinlupa, Taguig, and Parañaque still need to repair streets, schools and other public buildings damaged by “Ondoy” and typhoon “Pepeng,” but the political situation has started to heat up as local officials filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2010 elections.

In Pasay City, incumbent Mayor Wenceslao Trinidad will run against five mayoralty bets, including Vice Mayor Antonino Calixto of the Liberal Party and Connie Dy of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino. Trinidad’s running mate is his current chief-of-staff, Greg Alcera.

In Muntinlupa, it will be a four-way fight between incumbent Mayor Aldrin San Pedro of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, former mayor Jaime Fresnedi of the Liberal Party, and neophytes Jose Nelson Casulla of the Philippine Green Republican party and independent candidate Oscar Mamerto.

In Taguig City, the fight for the mayoralty post will be between former Justice Dante Tiñga of Kilusang Diwa ng Taguig and Lani Cayetano, wife of Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano, of the Nacionalista Party.

In Parañaque, Mayor Florencio Bernabe Jr. and running mate Vice Mayor Gustavo Tambunting filed their COCs last Nov. 26 under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.

Las Piñas City Mayor Vergel Aguilar and other members of his ticket filed theirs last Nov. 27 under the Nationalist People’s Coalition party.

Thousands not spared

“The rage brought by ‘Ondoy’ did not spare thousands of families in the southern district of Manila whose houses were submerged in flood that went as high as the second floor of their respective houses,” a city official said.

In Pasay City alone, 12,000 families were evacuated to various public schools last Sept. 26 after non-stop rains inundated the city.

Nerissa Santy of the Pasay City Rescue Team said they used dump trucks to transport families to schools that served as temporary evacuation centers during the flood.

Villamor Airbase, Electrical Street near Domestic, Cabrera and Maricaban were among areas submerged in floodwaters four feet deep, while the floodwaters in barangays near the creek side had been nearly three feet deep.

Trinidad said the Metrobank Foundation donated P500,000 to the city government for flood victims.

In Muntinlupa City, around 1,000 families were also brought to public schools and covered courts. The affected residents were accommodated in Sucat Elementary School, Alabang Elementary School and in the Plaza Day Care Center, also in Alabang.

Anna Duelas of the Muntinlupa Disaster Coordinating Council said water was five feet or higher on Arandia Street in Barangay Tunasan, Joaquin Compound and Ilaya, Aplaya in Barangay Alabang, Garcip Compound in Barangay Cupang, Upper Buli.

The city government continued its relief operations for residents living along the shores of Laguna de Bay.

The city’s social services department said 2,445 families or 11,656 persons were taken to 17 evacuation centers and temporarily stayed in schools, covered courts and churches. San Pedro said affected residents were those from Barangays Sucat, Buli, Cupang, Alabang, Bayanan, Poblacion, Putatan and Tunasan. Only the Ayala-Alabang area was spared from flooding because of its efficient drainage system.

Homes of 40,000 families were under knee-deep or chest-deep water but many families refused to leave their houses.

About 5,000 families living along Laguna de Bay have remained in evacuation centers. The floodwaters subsided only in the first week of December.

“What is still being undertaken is the continuous clean-up of streets and houses that were submerged in floods. It’s a good thing that several of the families in evacuation centers have already returned to their homes,” San Pedro said.

In Taguig City, families from Barangays Lower Bicutan, New Lower Bicutan, Palar, Tipas, were among those brought to safer ground.

Since floodwaters did not immediately subside, thousands of residents remain in evacuation centers, Taguig Mayor Sigfrido Tiñga said.

He mobilized the city’s disaster coordinating council to implement three-pronged relief operations to immediately address the needs of victims and constituents affected by “Ondoy.”

Tinga said operations focused on the distribution of relief goods to thousands of affected families, the setting up of wooden foot bridges in areas still submerged in flood waters, and the provision of free shuttle services to ferry commuters to and from areas not passable to public transport.

The city government also tapped its community development units (CDU) to serve in the delivery of relief goods and services in flooded areas.

Considered as Taguig’s smallest political unit, each CDU is composed of 30 to 50 households.

With several areas in the city submerged, Taguig was placed under a state of calamity through the passage of City Ordinance 57, Series of 2009 that also authorized the release of funds for relief and rehabilitation purposes.

Affected barangays were Ususan, Tuktukan, Sta. Ana, Calzada, Palingon, Ibayo, and Ligid in Tipas, Napindan, Bambang, Wawa, Hagonoy, San Miguel, Lower Bicutan, New Lower Bicutan, and Bagumbayan.

Even after a month since “Ondoy,” local officials said more than half of Taguig’s 28 barangays had remained submerged in flood.

Tiñga said the 15 areas submerged in knee to chest-deep water were Barangays Ususan and Tuktukan in Sta. Ana, Calzada-Tipas, Palingon-Tipas, Ligid-Tipas, Ibayo-Tipas, Napindan, Bambang, Wawa, Hagonoy, San Miguel, Lower Bicutan, New Lower Bicutan, and Bagumbayan.

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