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Dumaguete City, PhilippinesTuesday, October 8, 2013
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Bayawan in state of calamity;
bodies of cop, 5 others found

BY JUDY F. PARTLOW

The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Bayawan City in Negros Oriental declared it under a state of calamity after massive flooding claimed six lives and covered several barangays over the weekend.

The SP yesterday unanimously approved the resolution that will allow the city government to use its calamity fund for relief and rehabilitation efforts, Councilor Luis Sumalpong said.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council head, Cindy Hisona Salimbagat, said around 11,000 individuals, or 2,000 families, were evacuated or rescued at the height of the flooding Sunday.

The evacuation centers were at the Bayawan gymnasium, Internal Business Center, and the Negros Oriental State University campus in Barangay Villareal.

Six bodies were recovered by rescue groups and residents when the floods subsided yesterday. Two of them were identified as those of Police Officer 1 Rodelyn Gonzaga and Ronald Garganian. The four other fatalities are still unidentified, and three more residents were still missing as of press time.

Gonzaga, from Bayawan, was a member of the Philippine National Police Special Counterinsurgency Operations Unit Training Class 40-2013. He joined in the rescue operations, and was first reported missing Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday morning, his body was recovered in Sitio Pacifica, Punong 3 in Barangay Caranoche, Sta. Catalina, Senior Insp. Dexter Calacar, training director of the PNP Regional Special Training Unit 7 and in charge of the PNP SCOUT course, said.

Calacar said Gonzaga had just returned from rescuing one victim and was wading through waist-deep water when he was carried away by strong currents. He was one of 112 police personnel, including 15 females, who are scheduled to graduate from their 45-day SCOUT course on the first week of November.

Meanwhile, Salimbagat said many families have already returned to their homes despite the lack of official advice from the city government.

She said the city officials fear a possible repeat of the weekend flooding because another typhoon has entered the Philippine area of responsibility.

Rep. Pryde Henry Teves (Neg. Or., 3rd District) said three major bridges were affected by the continuous rains since Friday.

The Department of Trade and Industry provincial office also sent representatives to Bayawan City and adjacent towns to check on commodities, inspect business establishments and determine if there was hoarding or unusual rise in the prices of goods.

The city is still without electricity and water supply.

Salimbagat said Mayor German Saraña was going around with a team of engineers and other officials to assess the devastation.

An aerial survey was also made yesterday after the Philippine Air Force deployed helicopters to Bayawan, she added.

She said the flood victims will receive assistance from the city government.*JFP

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