Barangay officers and flood victims in Brgy. San Juan, Taytay, Rizal seek more aid from government and civil society organizations as they continue to rebuild their community in a forum sponsored by the Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace on December 11, 2020.
Brgy. San Juan is the biggest barangay in Taytay. It has 103,000 residents and is 1,500 hectares big, said Alfredo Francisco, San Juan barangay secretary. Together with other areas around Metro Manila, it suffered severe flooding after the onslaught of Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni) in early November 2020.
Taytay is in the downstream part of the eastern corridor of Metro Manila-Rizal area. Its topography is so low that water run-off from Antipolo and other areas in Rizal province, and backflow from Pasig River and the Manggahan Floodway gets concentrated during heavy rains and storms.
According to Adelqueen Asis, representative of the Damayan Homeowners Association in Brgy. San Juan, sectors most severely affected by the typhoon are the small business, fisherfolk and small farmers. On top of income lack due to the pandemic, these sectors are also struggling to enjoy tenure in the areas where they now live. Taytay is also a relocation area for many of Metro Manila’s urban poor.
“Flood victims need aid similar to the Social Amelioration Program that is reserved only for the victims of the pandemic,” said Asis.
Though severely affected, residents have readied themselves for the typhoon, said Mariz de la Rosa, chairperson of the Barangay San Juan Disaster Coordinating Council. Many residents have received training from government and the Community Organizers Multiversity, a civil society group assisting the barangay.
Trained community volunteers have formed themselves into a Barangay Quick Reaction Team that assisted those who had to evacuate their homes. In many parts of Taytay, trained disaster teams have been established over time, as is suggested by Republic Act 10121, the Philippines’ Disaster Management Act.
In Brgy. San Juan, an incident command system was set up to monitor what is happening in the different corners of the barangay.
De la Rosa asserted that being ready for disasters will ensure the survival of families and communities. Speaking in Filipino, she said “Every family should know what to do when floods and similar incidents happen.”
After the area got flooded, many civil society groups, including volunteers from Ateneo de Manila University, gave them food packs and other items like chicken and vegetables so they can ride out the first days after the flood.
The residents are aware that the flooding also brought forth conflicts, especially in the distribution of the relief assistance from different sectors. To minimize conflicts, the barangay adopted the policy that aid packs must be received personally.
Said Brgy. Sec. Francisco, the barangay has already used up 70 percent of its disaster fund for the year. It wants to optimize the remaining funds in case another calamity strikes the area again. Part of the disaster funds are also used in the conduct of trainings.
Added Ms. De la Rosa, the barangay disaster team is now conducting vulnerability assessment in different areas. The barangay hopes for more assistance to build the capacity of the residents and build a broader base of community volunteers who could respond to disaster situations.