Espinoza: Bald mountains caused flooding; President BBM: Plant trees

Unlike earthquakes, typhoons are foreseeable. Our Pagasa has not been remiss in providing us the data of the incoming low pressure area (LPA) that would later develop into a storm. Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae) left a death toll of 61 when it made a landfall in Maguindanao last week and caused damage to infrastructure due to the massive flooding.

Despite the warning from Pagasa, some local government units, like Maguindanao were unprepared for Paeng. Paeng’s wrath was also felt in Cebu and in Luzon. The continuous heavy rains coupled with moderate winds also caused landslides in the mountain barangays of Cebu so that some houses were pushed down the ravine.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), before Paeng struck, had also provided warnings by sending through everyone’s cellphone the “red” or “orange” rainfall warnings and identifying the provinces that could be hit by the heavy rains that may cause landslides. But did anyone take notice of those warnings?

SunStar Cebu reported that as of Tuesday, the total death toll brought about by Paeng in Maguindanao was at 61, of which 42 were in Datu Odin Sinsuat, eight in Upi, seven in Datu Blah Sinsuat, three in Barira, and one in South Upi. Maguindanao Gov. Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu said 30 out of the 36 municipalities and 370 out of the 508 barangays in the province were affected. A total of 622,605 individuals were displaced.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who visited Maguindanao on Tuesday to personally hand over the relief goods to the affected families, urges the officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) to plant trees as part of the flood control system. The President personally saw the devastation brought about by Paeng that also caused flooding and landslides when he and Barmm Gov. Bai Mariam inspected the province on board a helicopter.

President BBM speaking in Tagalog said “noong nasa helicopter kami ni Bai Mariam, na notice ko lahat ng gumuho, kalbo ang bundok. That’s the problem. And I was pointing out to the governor, sabi ko sa kanya: Tingnan mo ‘yung may kahoy hindi gumalaw ‘yung lupa, lahat nung sugat na makita mo sa bundok dahil kalbo.”

“So, we have to include tree planting in our flood control. Dapat kasama ‘yan. Kung gagastos tayo sa flood control, kailangan may tree planting. So that’s one thing that we need to do. But that one alam na natin ‘yun, we have been hearing this over and over again, pero patuloy pa rin tayo nagpuputol ng kahoy, ‘yan ang nangyayari nagkaka-landslide ng ganyan,” he added.

If my memory serves me right, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has a reforestation program on denuded forests due to the legal or illegal logging. Then it behooves upon President BBM to re-introduce and invigorate the government’s reforestation program and strictly regulate logging.

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The observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day was never the same again after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.

There was no more overnight stay in the cemeteries or memorial parks. Eating, drinking and parlor games are prohibited. It was however good for most of us who want solemnity in the remembrance of our departed loved ones.

My family and I went to visit the grave of my father, Pedro, in Calero Memorial Estates in Liloan, Cebu on Monday ahead of the celebration to avoid the traffic and crowd. But we were surprised to see that only a few were there.

In the pre-pandemic time, family members already congregate at this time, installing tents, tables and chairs, and preparing food.

It was quiet and had less traffic.