President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this morning handed over a P50-million check to Task Force Mindanao River Basin to implement a comprehensive master plan curbing perennial flooding in Cotabato City and the provinces of Maguindanao, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.
Once completed, the project will spur economic development in the area and, more importantly, save lives.
Task Force chairman Bishop Orlando Quevedo received the check during the joint meeting of the Cabinet and Presidential Task Force Mindanao River Basin Rehabilitation and Development at the Fisherman’s Hall of Isla Parilla Resort.
The President, Quevedo said, offered a short- and long-term solution to the problem.
The short-term solution is to dredge the silted rivers in the area and, if appropriate, re-channel them. The long-term solution will require a master plan, which includes the establishment of a hydropower system and flood control structures based on a detailed hydrology study.
Under the master plan, the eco-tourism potentials of the region will be developed. That means construction of farm-to-market roads, food terminal markets, irrigation, hydropower and flood-control structures.
The Mindanao River Basin project covers 20,398 square kilometers from the Pulangi River in the northeastern part of Bukidnon to the Bukidnon Plateau and all the way to the Cotabato plains and Cotabato river basin. The river has 17 tributaries.
The Mindanao River Basin also includes the marshlands of Liguasan, Libungan, and Ebpanan as well as the provinces of Bukidnon, Maguindanao, North Cotabato and South Cotabato.
To date, the Task Force has laid down nine priority flood control rehabilitation projects in the Mindanao River Basin.
These are the dredging of the Mindanao River Phase 1 and 2, dredging of the Tamontaka River,Simuay Flood Control Project, construction of access road from Quirino bridge to Delta Bridge, repair and rehabilitation of Ala River Flood Control Project, channelization and bank protection and the Sultan Barongis Flood Control Project.
Also included in the urgent flood control projects are the replacement of the old Quirino Bridge, lower Cotabato River basin Flood Control project, and the Mindanao River Basin Master Plan.
In his briefing, Quevedo said recent typhoon Jolina affected 95,989 families in Cotabato province; 26,538 in Maguindanao; 25,096 in Cotabato City; 31,462 families in Sultan Kudarat; 8,428 in South Cotabato,886 in South Cotabato; 3,449 in Sarangani; and 130 in General Santos City.
The typhoon also left 24 people dead. Damage to agriculture infrastructure was pegged at P1.2 billion.
The Bishop thanked government agencies, especially the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), for their immediate response during the calamity. RMA/OPS/utb