Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr visited the town of Alcala in Cagayan province on November 17 to personally assess the current situation in the area following the massive flooding that happened.
Secretary Roque also met with local government officials including Mayor Cristina Antonio of Alcala, Mayor Digna Puzon-Antonio of Pamplona, Cagayan, Mayor Jonathan Jose Calderon of Roxas, Isabela, former Cagayan Governor Alvaro Antonio, and other local officials from the towns of Alcala, Pamplona, and Roxas. Aside from meeting with local officials, Roque personally donated 400 sacks of rice for the province of Cagayan.
“Narito nga po tayo sa Alcala para iparating po ang kahandaang tumulong ng ating Presidente para bigyan po ng remedyo ang palaging nagiging problema lalong-lao na dito sa Alcala at sa buong Cagayan Valley,” said Secretary Roque during the press briefing in response to the appeal of Alcala Mayor Antonio for the government to provide long-term solutions to solve the problem of flooding in the town and in the whole province of Cagayan.
Mayor Antonio said that the flooding that they experienced is referred to as a 100-year flood, which she explained as having a one percent probability of happening in a year.
Alcala town Vice-Mayor Joy Duruin said that out of the 25 barangays of Alcala, 24 experienced flooding, with seven barangays completely submerged in flood waters. The town’s officials said that the flood reached up to 15 meters from what is normally experienced in the town.
The town of Alcala previously commissioned a study to understand the risk of flooding for the town, and engaged the services of former University of the Philippines Science Institute Director Dr. Fernando Saringan, an expert in river and marine geology.
According to Mayor Antonio, Dr. Saringan explained to them that there are several factors why the Cagayan River overflowed and why the town of Alcala was severely flooded. One of these is the bottleneck where the river’s width becomes constricted as the water approaches some of the barangays in Alcala.
Another factor is that the town of Alcala is where the Pared River from the mountains of Sierra Madre and the Cagayan River meet, which naturally caused the rise in water level. Also, Mayor Antonio explained that the water came from different sources not just the Magat Dam but also from the mountains of Sierra Madre and from other directions as well.
Antonio reported that there are 4, 630 families or 12, 731 individuals who were affected by the flooding and were evacuated in the town’s evacuation centers. She added that this number does not include other affected families who did not evacuate but whose homes were also flooded.
In terms of damaged crops and livestock, the Mayor of Alcala said that the damage is estimated to be at P52-Million. As of date, areas in Alcala are still submerged in flood water, including rice fields and other agricultural areas.
In response, Roque said that the national government has on the ready quick reaction fund that local government units can tap into when needed. “Ang advice po ni Sec. Wendel [Avisado], kung maubos po ang calamity fund, pwede po kayong humingi ng quick reaction [response] fund doon po sa mga departamentong meron pong quick reaction fund na pwe-pwedeng ma-replenish. Kasama po diyan ang DWPH, ang Department of Education, ang Department of Social [Welfare] and Development, among others,” said Sec. Roque.
In another matter, Roque affirmed in the same press briefing the signing of Administrative Orders (AO) No. 35 and 36 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on November 16. AO 35 authorizes the giving of active hazard duty pay for frontline human resources for health while in the state of national emergency. The active hazard duty pay will amount to up to P3,000 monthly and is pro-rated based on days of active duty per month.
Meanwhile, AO 36 authorizes the giving of COVID-19 Special Risk Allowance for private and public health care workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients during the state of national emergency. The special risk allowance will not exceed P5,000 per month and is pro-rated and based on days of active duty per month. ### OPS-PCOO