President Benigno Aquino III’s Makamasang Tugon (MT) program is preventing a key section of this poor hinterland town from being swept away by floods and perishing from the town’s topographical map.
The program, also known as the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), has provided an amount of P9.1 million for the establishment of a flood control project that would protect the area.
The project covers four downtown barangays that, every time the Quipia River overflows during heavy rains, are submerged under water whose strong current has been alarmingly eroding and washing away a huge portion of its land.
Quipia is a major waterway that runs through the town from the foot of Mayon Volcano to the nearby town of Donsol, Sorsogon.
Barangays Magsaysay, Sto Niño, Aurora and Plaza are close to losing most of its land area due to massive erosions and floods and “maybe, one day, we will wake up to find half of the poblacion area already gone,” Mayor Jorem Arcangel on Tuesday said.
This municipality is home to about 17,000 population based on the 2010 count made by the National Census and Statistics (NSO) and these four barangays located at the downtown are the most densely populated.
Arminda Millano, sari-sari store owner in Barangay Magsaysay knew just how real the danger is, having lived in Jovellar for 63 years and witnessed the effects of the flooding “that could really erase the entire barangay and its neighboring three others from the map when left uncontrolled”.
“Evacuating to safer ground every time flood warnings are raised had been the usual experience for us here because it is always certain that our houses will be submerged by flood water. For families who are not lucky enough, they will find their homes gone and carried away by strong current when they return,” she told the Philippines News Agency in the local dialect.
“Our backyard has been slowly eroding and I dread the day, when our house will be swept away by flood, too. I never dreamt that MT will solve our problems,” she added.
Arcangel said flooding has reached the point that the land in the town’s poblacion barangays have been fast diminishing, making it a major concern for the local government officials, especially that the area serves as the center of local economy and commerce.
It is also at this point that the DSWD came with the good news that MT has provided a total of P9.1 million for the establishment of flood control structures in support to the municipal government’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan for 2011 to 2020 that seeks to protect the area, the mayor said.
The provincial government of Albay had also provided an amount of P1.8 million in counterpart for the project whose constructions are now ongoing with the local government overseeing the works and barangay residents providing the labor under the community-based development (CDD) approach of the MT program.
CDD approach supported by the MT is one of the Aquino administration’s “three legs of convergence” for enhancing the capacity of the poor to escape poverty.
Using such approach, the MT helps poor communities develop the necessary skills and provides them with resources to select, implement and sustain community infrastructure projects and social services.
Its implementation has been scaled up by the Aquino administration with Albay provided this year with an amount of P90.5 million in grant for projects amounting to a total of P129.2 million.
The remaining amount of P38.7 required is to be put up by the provincial government and the local government units in forms of local counterparts.
The other two are the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Sustainable Livelihood all being administered by the DSWD.
Magsaysay Barangay Chairman Cezar Arellano expressed gratitude to the government’s support in the realization of the project.
“We would like to thank all those that made this project a reality from Pres. Noynoy Aquino, the DSWD staff and Gov. Joey Salceda, among others for it. Certainly, this project will erase fear within everyone of us in this barangay from the threat of being pestered by floods and land erosions then normalize our daily economic activities for us to be delivered from poverty,” Arellano said.