Rains, floods, soil erosion, and quarrying

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

Cebu has experienced rains for the past days. And we are all again reminded about what need to be prioritized by all, especially by LGU officials.

 One, how knowledgeable and prepared are LGUs and the public about climate change?

 Also, did all catch PAGASA-7 Chief Al Quiblat explain that the rainfall volume of about 230 millimeters recorded for Cebu Province in the last two weeks has already “breached” the monthly average rainfall volume of 157.9 mm recorded for the last 30 years?

 According to Quiblat, it is the La Niña (an oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific) causing the heavy rains and “above normal precipitation” that may continue this month of August.

Quiblat asked all to “take precautionary measures against the impacts associated with the hazards, including flash floods and landslides.”

 And sure enough, flash floods were experienced, even in areas that have not been easily flooded in the past!

 Imagine the inconvenience, the danger, the harm, the costs caused by these flash floods to people and communities!

 A comprehensive, effective integrated Metro Cebu drainage system is urgent, yes.

As added priority, it is just as important for LGUs to also have comprehensive information, especially, not only about how to immediately drain off the flood waters from what areas but to trace the other natural or human-made causes of the flooding.

 Then there is the serious issue of soil erosion that displaced/caused the evacuation of families in in Barangay Budlaan, Barangay Buhisan, in Sitio Taboc in Pit-os, Talamban!

 How many more will be displaced, evacuated, harmed, left homeless every time the rains will visit Cebu City and other parts of the province?

 The alert and reminders to do preemptive protection are helpful and appreciated.

However, are there efforts to trace and stop the causes of the flooding and soil erosion not only in the above mentioned areas but in other areas that have not experienced flooding before but are now experiencing “abnormal” flooding?

 For example, is the soil erosion in high risk/other areas caused by quarrying?

 What about the loss of trees or unauthorized tree cutting in many areas as well?

Trees are very important in catching the rain, stabilizing the soil, averting the floods, for storing carbon, in providing us with oxygen and more.

 In the midst of the race to lower global temperature by 2030, to save the world from extreme, dire consequences of global warming, here in Cebu City and province, is quarrying allowed to cut trees, deplete resources, weaken the soil, and cause the evacuation and displacement of residents?

Calls have been raised to the LGU, DENR/CENRO officials for serious investigation, appropriate action and penalties regarding quarrying/tree cutting.

A related message observed: “There are numerous quarry activities in the north district in Cebu City where Guba is located. Many of them are illegal. It is in Brgy Guba in which 389 trees were cut in 2020 without permit, no development plan submitted to PAMB given it's part of CCPL, and no ECC application submitted to EMB. Civil society intervened on the issue, the CSO position paper was eloquently discussed during an online public hearing. The officials who decided on the tree cutting, however, were never penalized.”

And this serious call and alert:  “Quarrying (legal or illegal) brings destruction, adverse impacts to the environment. Let us not give permits (for quarrying) to defend our environment and humanity.”

Rain/flood management, then, entails not just effective drainage but more comprehensive knowledge/understanding of and integrated measures (for example, rain harvesting as one control for problematic floods) that address global warming, protection of people and communities and responsible management of trees/other resources through legislation/policy/and strict regulation and implementation of approved laws and ordinances.


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