MANILA, May 22, 2004  (MALAYA) By EVANGELINE DE VERA -  More than a hundred low-lying municipalities nationwide are prone to flashfloods and landslides, according to a study conducted by the National Forestry Development Office.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has identified about 107 areas in 11 provinces in Regions 5, 8 and Caraga as high-risk for floodslides similar to the Leyte incident that occured last December.

NFDO deputy director Jonas Leones said in a phone interview that the DENR-attached agency has yet to conclude its geo-hazard assessment of Luzon, owing to budget constraints.

"When President Arroyo ordered the DENR to prepare a geo-hazard map, we were asked to prioritize only these three regions, which have previously been identified as being frequented by typhoons, floods and landslide incidents," he said.

Disaster preparedness includes provision of geologic hazard maps and information to mitigate effects of calamities through proper land use planning, conduct of geohazard awareness campaign including distribution of information materials on disaster preparedness, and training local government units in disaster management.

The classification of flood-prone areas were based on topography, recurrence of flooding incidents and vulnerability to typhoons, as provided by the National Disaster Coordinating Council and the Philippine Athmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Leones said they also took into consideration the history of the place in coordination with local government units.

With the onset of the rainy season, Environment Secretary Elisea Gozun reminded the public living in low-lying areas to take precautionary measures against floods.

Gozun alerted the regional offices of the DENR to closely coordinate with LGUs to formulate a local-based early warning system.

This will also enable LGUs concerned to train local communities in high risk areas to develop and implement both the short-term and the long-term disaster preparedness arid mitigation plan.

In Region 5, high-risk areas were the municipalities of Jose Panganiban, Sta. Elena, Labo, San Vicente, San Lorenzo Ruiz in Camarines Norte; Caramoran, Sigmoto, San Miguel, Baras, Bato and Virac in Catanduanes; Malilipot, Bacacay, Rapu-rapu Island, Sto. Domingo, Legaspi and Manito in Albay and Bacon in Sorsogon.

In Region 8, the towns of Marubay Island, Laoang , Rosario, Catarman, Bobon, Mondragon, Sivino Lobos, Lavesalez, San Roque, Catubig, Las Navas, Palapag, Mapanas, and Lapinig in Northern Samar were identified as risk areas.

In Eastern Samar are the towns of Jipadpad, Alfeche, San Policarpio, Oras, Maslog, San Jose de Buan, Dolores, Can-Avid Taft , Sulat, San Julian, Borongan, Maydulong, Balantayan, Llorente, Hernani, Gen. MacArthur, Motiong Jabong, San Jeorge, and Matuguinao; and Paranas (Wright), Hinabangan, arid San Jose in Samar.

Leyte towns with high potential to landslide and floods include Babatrigon, Barugo, Alang-alang, Palo, Tolosa, Dulag, Abuyog, Silago, Hinunangan, Hinundayan, Anahawan, St. Bernard, Opus, San Juan, Liloan, San Francisco, Sari Ricardo, and Pintuyan.

The towns of Loreto , Cagdianao, Libjo, Tubajon, San Isidro, Pilar, Socorro, Surigao City, San Francisco, Malimoro, Sison, Placer , Mainit, Claver, Alegria, Kitcharao, Jabonga, Tubay, and Santiago in Surigao Del Norte were noted.

In Agusan Del Norte are Cabadbaran, Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Cortes, and Lanuza while in Agusan del Sur includes Tandag, Tago, San Miguel, Cagwait, Marihatag, San Agustin, Lianga, Barobo , Bislig , and Lingig.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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