Let us punish negligent officials!

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide () - October 14, 2010 - 12:00am

The report quoting the Mines and Geosciences Bureau that Kasambagan, the barangay in Cebu City where I have lived these past four decades, is one of the barangays most endangered by floods, horrified me. The terrible scene of the incalculable disaster in the Marikina Valley after tyhoon Ondoy dumped tons of rainwater into that part of Metro Manila came back. We saw it like a live television broadcast and the calamity, which happened only last year, was devastatingly horrible.

 But, believe me, I was more saddened than shocked by the report that Kasambagan is in the way of a horrendous flood. We assumed, at the bottom of the news, that climatic change might eventually be the culprit but the apathy of the people and the neglect of leaders must be the direct cause.

The "flood prone nature" of our barangay is not new. It is a problem that has continued to aggravate these past years. The Mahiga creek, which serves as the boundary of Kasambagan vis-à-vis Barangays Banilad and Subangdaku both of Mandaue City, is undeniably the source of concern. This waterway easily swells over its banks even at the slightest of rain and quickly inundates the surrounding areas.

This river is not the same waterway that it was many years ago. It has constricted so much at some portions that its width may just be about half the original. Here lies the problem. When it rains, the accumulation of heavy volume of water cannot anymore be absorbed by the river bed and its banks.

The incursion of houses into the Mahiga creek can be identified as the principal cause for the constriction of the waterway. It is socio/political issue. Landless individuals, mostly migrants, who have got to put some cover over their heads, find the vacant areas beside Mahiga most compellingly attractive. Their construction eats into the banks and reduces its capacity to handle floodwaters.

In the early part of this century, the barangay government tried to address this issue. It attempted to establish the original banks and fortify the same against usurpers. The method used was simple yet effective. "Let the people see the benefits of a strengthened sides of the river and engage them to work on it" was the come-on. As a result, a portion of Mahiga creek that was almost totally eroded was concreted with the neighbors volunteering their services.

The initial attempt was not followed. The present administration of Capt. Jun Lim was clueless of the impending disaster. Either that or he did not just care. And because he did not recognize this problem, naturally, he did not do anything about it.

The present news of the imminent danger of Barangay Kasambagan being flooded questions the capacity of Capt. Lim. His failure to address this problem is not a minor matter. The consequence of his inability to comprehend the problem puts to risk our lives and properties specially those whose homes are erected on the banks of Mahiga creek. Should flooding take place, and God forbid, lives are lost, Capt. Lim has to account.

 According to the news report, the MGB served the warning on the areas under threat of natural disasters. To our relief it has done so many times in the past and continues to do so. In other words, this government agency may have done what is expeted of it. But, in my mind, it is not enough that the MGB reminds all barangay officials concerned of the danger that goes with the climate changes. It should put to task all of those who failed to act on their warnings.

Because the failure of officials to take steps to protect the lives and properties of its residents tantamounts to gross neglect, the MGB should start hailing to court. Only when the MGB starts to crack on neglectful officials like Capt. Lim, may we see them do their jobs.

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Email: avenpiramide@yahoo.com.ph

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