STORM BREWS OVER LUZON, P1-B DAMAGE QUESTIONED; FLOOD VICTIMS' WOES

[PHOTO -Young children and their parents wait for their share of relief goods.]

MANILA, AUGUST 13, 2012 (MANILA STANDARD) By Florante S. Solmerin - Over a thousand state workers have fanned out to clean up Metro Manila and several provinces of debris and mud but the threat of dam water flooding back the coastal areas in nearby Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija is compounding the misery of victims, officials say.

While the southwest monsoon continued to bring heavy rains over several provinces, a low pressure area off Central Luzon might intensify into a storm and enter Philippine territory, a Pag-ASA advisory said. At least two more typhoons were expected to hit the Philippines this month, Pag-ASA said.

At Angat Dam, a source of potable water in Metro Manila, water breached the spilling level on Saturday while floods continued to cascade down from Nueva Ecija and Pampanga, posing a double whammy for Bulacan and its coastal areas.

The death toll reached 66 while 2.6 million people were displaced, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Damage was placed at over a billion pesos (P1.09 billion in crop losses and P138 million in infrastructure) but that estimate was being questioned by the Agriculture department.

”We have to take the data with a grain of salt,” said Undersecretary for Field Operations Joel Rudinas reacting to a Central Luzon field report sent to disaster coordinating agency Executive Director Benito Ramos.

[PHOTO- People try to cope despite the floods. Danny Pata]

The data from the field offices were localized, acquired from local government units and unreliable so these would have to be reviewed by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, Rudinas said.

The damage report showed that crops losses amounted to P847. 32 million in Pampanga, P204.5 million in Bulacan, and Zambales, O43.6 million. At least P138 million worth of roads and bridges as well as 8,000 houses were destroyed by the week-long rain.

The Metro Manila Development Authority deployed 500 street sweepers equipped with hoses and brooms, backed by fire trucks and heavy equipment to do the clean-up job.

In Bulacan, floods began to subside but the Angat Dam breached 214.32 meters, or in excess of two meters beyond the spilling level, thus threatening residents.

Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado deployed additional rescue teams to the towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy.

Meycauayan City Mayor Joan Alarilla and vice mayor Jojo Manzano went on a 24-hour shift to distribute relief to affected residents in the city which was submerged, some areas neck-deep by floods. Orlan Mauricio

That water may not be safe to drink By Maricel Cruz | Posted on August 12, 2012 | 12:06am | 196 views

[PHOTO- FROM THE INQUIRER: 'THE TOPNOTCHERS']

Water, water everywhere, but is it safe to drink? It depends on where it comes from.

To make sure bottled water is fit for human consumption, the House of Representatives has approved a bill regulating the sale of bottled water to protect the consumers from trade malpractices and from using substandard or hazardous products.

House Bill 6388, or the proposed Safe Bottled Water Act of 2012 authored by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and 44 other lawmakers requires the Department of Health to establish and enforce clear and un-coded uniform source labeling of all bottled water products. The requirement includes the original source of the water, type of water, type of treatment, the date of bottling, the address of the bottler, and provide numerical specification of sodium content, according to the bill.

The bill’s authors emphasized the need for the state to craft a comprehensive policy framework to regulate the activities of the mineral, carbonated and other bottled water businesses including suppliers, distributors and sellers.

The measure noted that the consumption of bottled water has increased markedly in recent years, with thousands of households currently consuming bottled water as the source of drinking water.

It said the consumers are paying premium prices for bottled water based on the assumption that it is of superior quality to their tap water.

“Unfortunately, bottled water sold in the country is left unregulated, as there exists a possibility that the bottled water sold in the market is not of superior quality as claimed,” HB 6338 read.

Under the bill, the DOH shall define mineral water, spring water, naturally carbonated, naturally sparkling, well water, natural well water, artesian water, natural artesian water, purified water, distilled water, drinking water and all other variants of bottled water existing in the market, and require that the definition for the appropriate product be placed on the bottle.

The DOH has to formulate the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations concerning source protection, monitoring, reporting and inspection, recall regulations, prohibition of dual use of bottled water equipment and for its bottling, packaging and storage study, according to the bill.

It also prescribes that the Secretary of Health with the assistance of the Director of the Food and Drugs Administration is empowered to establish quality standards and definitions for mineral water and carbonated water, among others.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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