BARANGAY SALONG, Kabankalan City -- The lives of residents in at least six barangays here and in the neighboring Ilog town are in danger from constant flooding in their farmlands caused by the onset of the rainy season, and the non-repair of the old dam built by the National Irrigation Administration in the seventies.
The NIA dam in Sitio Magahinga here was supposed to supply water to the existing irrigation system, but its condition is posing more risks than good during the typhoon months to hundreds of Kabankalan and Ilog sugar and rice farmers who till more than 1,000 hectares.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. with Provincial Engineering Office personnel headed by Ernie Mapa, provincial veterinarian, Dr. Renante Decena and Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office Director Milko Lirazan, conducted an ocular inspection to determine the extent of the flooding problem after attending the 16th Charter Day celebration in Kabankalan City, and held consultations with local officials and an animal dispersal activity with youth groups, women and farmers in Barangay Dancalan, Ilog.
Sugar farmer Tutti Trebol, who invited the Capitol executive to see the flooded area, has been spearheading local efforts to correct the problem. He said Barangay Salong in Kabankalan, and Dancalan, Delicioso, Vista Alegre, Calubang and Bocana in Ilog are the most affected.
The Capitol team saw the swelling of waters when it made a whistle stop at Mo-og Bridge in Dancalan that spreads to large parts of Delicioso and the Kabankalan barangay.
After the downpour yesterday, the barangay and hacienda roads the governor's team passed late Friday afternoon, had been rendered impassable, Trebol said.
Waters from the irrigation canals continue to flood standing crops, and 41-year-old housewife, Delilah Jamelarin, whose husband, Jaime, 46, is a farmer, said that since January this year, they are only on their first cropping because of the problem.
Jamelarin, a mother of five, invited Marañon to her nipa house, and called her children and neighbors for a photo opportunity as the visit to the sitio was the first time by a governor.
Her house, built near the Balisong Creek in Sitio Magahinga in this barangay, is right beside the non-functional NIA dam. She told him that the waters would rise knee-deep inside their house during the rainy months.
Jamelarin told the Capitol team that the dam was never put to good use since 1975 and is posing danger to the community.
The irony, she said, is that, there is so much water in the farms come rainy months, and no water at all for irrigation during summer.
The rains supposedly stored by the NIA dam flow directly to Balisong Creek and other waterways. The flood waters in Mo-og River flow through the Ilog River mouth in Bocana out to the sea, a stretch of more than 6 kilometers.
Another concern cited by farmers that also contributes to the damming of the flood is the constriction of waterways as some residents who cut bamboo poles for livelihood or domestic use throw their wastes into the rivers.
The flooding problem had been addressed during the time of the late Gov. Joseph Marañon as the province mobilized the engineering unit to clean up the rivers and creeks and clear the other waterways, Trebol said.
But lately, the problem is back. The governor had directed the PEO to look into immediate interventions from the provincial government to save the farmers' standing crops.
Mapa said a PEO team will be fielded soon in the flooded barangays.*