(Metro News) Taguig approves release of calamity fund; Muntinlupa govt open to help typhoon victims

September 29, 2009 9:52 pm 

MANILA, Sept. 30 – Taguig Mayor Freddie R. Tiñga started to mobilize its disaster coordinating council to implement a three-pronged relief operations to immediately address the needs of victims and constituents affected by typhoon “Ondoy.”

The operations will be 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 tapped its community development units (CDUs) to serve as frontliners in ensuring the fast, efficient and systematic delivery of relief goods and services in all affected areas.

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

“The CDUs will be our perfect and most effective medium in making sure that the assistance extended by the local government in these times of need is delivered to each and every affected resident. Simply put, they are the city’s direct link to the people,” Tiñga said.

These services are being provided following last Monday’s approval by the Taguig Sangguniang Panlungsod of Ordinance No. 57, Series of 2009, declaring the city under a state of calamity and authorizing the release of funds for relief and rehabilitation purposes.

Relief goods, good for 5,000 families per day, will simultaneously be distributed in various flooded areas to be scheduled in the affected barangays, namely: Ususan; Tuktukan; Sta. Ana; Calzada, Palingon, Ibayo, and Ligid in Tipas; Napindan; Bambang; Wawa; Hagonoy; San Miguel; Lower Bicutan; New Lower Bicutan; and Bagumbayan.

Aside from the distribution of relief goods, the city government has also started the construction of wooden foot bridges as temporary pathways for residents in areas where flood waters remain knee-deep or at higher levels.

Free shuttle services will be provided to commuters on their way to work or home, from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at routes from Bay Breeze Subd. to M. L. Quezon St. in Brgy. Hagonoy and from the Tipas area to the Taguig City Hall .

The free public transport services were also initiated following reports of exorbitant fees being charged by public utility vehicle drivers plying routes submerged in flood waters.

Tinga said the city government expects the floodwaters in Taguig to completely recede within one to three months, dependent on when the water in the Laguna Lake reaches its normal level.

This is based on past experiences when flooding of this scale hit, not only Taguig, but also other nearby localities in Metro Manila.

Residents from the Tipas and Napindan area expressed their relief for the construction of Taguig’s road dike which prevented water from the Laguna Lake from washing in and out of the city with such intensity as was experienced in Marikina, Pasig and Cainta.

The road dike, according to residents, is one of the main reasons why Taguig had a low number of casualties.

On Tuesday, Taguig police revealed that eight bodies were recovered, apparent victims of storm Ondoy, were fished out from the overflowed Laguna Lake.

According to Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, city police chief, only two of the fatalities were minors and were residents of Taguig.

One of the two was identified as John Mark Bauaoro, 15, who was reportedly seen swimming in floodwaters in Lower Bicutan during the heavy downpour last Saturday.

Cascolan added the other minor who remained unidentified was a girl believed to be between four to five years old and the other victims were just swept away by the raging floods into the city’s jurisdiction.

Local fishermen discovered the children’s corpses floating at the lake at 6 a.m. Tuesday as they were readying to get off shore for a quick fishing trip.

Earlier at 6 p.m. Monday, members of the Taguig Rescue Team spotted the bodies of six men piled on top of each other along the lake’s shoreline.

The rescue team members were conducting relief and rescue operations for families stranded near the lake at the time.

Cascolan said the bodies were subsequently taken to Loreto Funeral Homes in Lower Bicutan where they will be processed and identified.

Tiñga called on residents to relay to Taguig’s hotline 1623 any concern that may need immediate action.

In Muntinlupa City, Mayor Aldrin San Pedro said it would take two to three months before the floodwater currently submerging eight of the city’s nine barangays would completely recede.

This is because these barangays sit beside Laguna Lake, which overflowed due to continuous rains over the weekend.

One of them, Barangay Tunasan, has floodwater that is at the level of the lake itself.

“We don’t see it receding soon,” said city Representative Rufino Biazon, who distributed relief goods to evacuees at Muntinlupa Elementary School on Monday.

“This is going to be an extended situation for us that’s why we need all the help we can get. I thought we brought enough relief goods today but the number of evacuees is still growing. We need more food and water,” Biazon said.

With the water treatment plant in Barangay Putatan still deep in murky floodwater, there’s also no telling when the constituents would regain their supply of potable water.

The local Social Services Department (SSD) said 2,445 families comprising 11,656 individuals have been transferred to the 17 evacuation centers in the city. The families are temporarily sheltered schools, covered courts and churches.

Despite this, San Pedro said it is business as usual for the city government as they try to aid victims of typhoon “Ondoy” especially those living along the Laguna Lake shoreline.

“Our offices are open to help the typhoon victims,” said the mayor, who ordered the packing and distribution of food and clothes to the displaced families.

Biazon, for his part, called on the national government to give additional relief to the residents of Muntinlupa so that the city may reserve its resources for the next step to recovery: rebuilding.

“Rebuilding and rehabilitation will be difficult, but the local government is doing its part. Hopefully, they would help us in the relief operations,” he said.

San Pedro said only one of his constituents died at the height of the typhoon last Saturday.

The fatality identified as Noel De Vera, 39, who fell into the river in Purok 7, Ilaya, Alabang on Saturday afternoon. The search and rescue operatives recovered De Vera’s corpse the other day.

Taguig and Muntinlupa have most of its barangays lined up along the shores of Laguna Lake, the country’s largest lake. (PNA) LDV/CLTC

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