January 29, 2023

Typhoon Ulysses that battered the Cordillera damaged P602 million worth of crops and government infrastructure and left seven casualties as of Nov. 13.

Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council Chair and Office of Civil Defense Director Albert Mogol reported Friday that major incidents involved the massive landslide at Barangay Viewpoint, Banaue, Ifugao last Nov. 12 that killed five people who took shelter from the torrential rains in a concrete bunkhouse, and flashfloods in Apayao. 

Some of the five casualties in Banaue were personnel of the Department of Public Works and Highways Ifugao  Engineering District who were then conducting road clearing operations. Five are still missing, while one was rescued.

Among those missing are Engr. John Limoh and Engr. Julius Gulayan Jr. of the DPWH.

The Ifugao Police Provincial Office identified the casualties as Joel Chur-ig, a DPWH driver; three-year-old Lance Bruce Guinyang; Dante Boqueng; Johnny Cabiggat Duccog; and 71-year-old Jose Piog.

Injured was James Harold Guinyang, who is confined at the Good News Hospital.

Government forces with help from civilian volunteers are conducting search and retrieval operation in the area as of press time.

The two other casualties were 60-year-old Felix Boguite of Busoc, Atok, Benguet who died when a clump of bamboos fell on his house leaving him dead on the spot and Malner Palonan, 30, from Sebang, Buguias, who was swept by a landslide while attending to his vehicle amid the rain. He was taken to the Lutheran Hospital where he was declared dead.

Initial estimates of the DPWH-Cordillera showed that damage to government infrastructure was pegged at P529.55M mostly roads due to landslides, school buildings, and flood control structures. The Department of Agriculture also reported P73M worth of damage to crops.  

Mogol said the strong rains and gustiness resulted in power interruption in 41 areas and necessitated the opening of spillways of Ambuklao and Binga dams in Benguet after water reached critical levels.

The normal water level at Ambuklao Dam is 752 meters above sea level (MASL). Its current level is 751.54 MASL. Spilling operation is ongoing at a discharge rate of 846.66 cubic meters (m3) per second.

For Binga Dam, the normal level is 575 MASL. Its current level is 573.63 MASL. Spilling operation is also ongoing at 928.26 m3 per second discharge rate.

Mogol also reported the typhoon has affected 1,265 individuals belonging to 334 families in 91 barangays and 28 municipalities in five provinces in the region. Flashfloods and landslides caused the displacement of these individuals.

Sixty-eight houses were damaged in which two are totally damaged and 66 were partially damaged.

Mogol said the agency together with different agencies would have to strengthen its geo-tagging program in various areas of the region to determine safe areas to take shelter during heavy rains.

He added families of the casualties and injured would be given assistance from the national government. – Rimaliza A. Opiña and Ofelia C. Empian