An expert from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) reported that Brooke’s Point is naturally prone to floods based on the investigation they conducted after a series of flooding incidents ravaged the town.

Geologist Merrari Rosaroso underscored the alluvial fan geographical feature of the town.

“Marami po dito sa southern Palawan, kapag maraming tubig ulan ang  bumagsak sa itaas ng bundok,  para itong lahar na  magdadala ng mga gumugulong na bato, putik o landslide mula sa itaas at bubulwak ito sa kapatagan,” Rosaroso explained.

“Napansin namin, ayon sa satellite, na ang daloy ng tubig ay dynamic, at noong nandoon ako sa Pangobilian, tapos na po  ang pagbaha nun, tinitingnan ko yong agos ng tubig sa kanal, kinilabutan ako dahil although wala ng pagbaha ay nakakadala pa ng mga maliliit na bato na mas malaki sa graba yong simpleng agos ng tubig. Ibig sabihin nun, may energy o current ang tubig. Imaginin mo kung kasalukuyang pagbaha ay ganoon kalakas ang current, napaka risky nun,” he explained further.

MGB has advised the local government to continuously monitor activities in the highlands, conduct dredging and riverway expansion, provide early warning devices, and desensitize the community in order to be better prepared for another flooding incident.

Prior to the report’s release, Brooke’s Point vice mayor Mary Jean Feliciano insisted that the DENR-MGB was already aware that the northern barangays of the town are prone to flash floods and landslides, making them unsuitable for mining, based on the findings of their own study conducted during her term.

Feliciano previously claimed that the flooding incidents were exacerbated by the town’s mining concession, calling the integrity of the DENR MGB investigation into question.

“Kaya nakakapagtaka pa rin na ina-allow na matuloy yung mining operation,” Feliciano expressed.

“Sana mayroon sa academe na magkaroon ng pag-aaral. Wag na yung mga nagbigay ng permit [sa mining] kasi baka maging bias lang sila. Dahil nagbigay sila ng permit syempre dedepensahan nila yung pagbibigay nila ng go signal na ituloy na yung mining operation,” Feliciano said.

She cited the flooding incident on Sitio Rizal in Brgy. Mambalot, a few kilometers away from the 20-hectare mining site where the company illegally cut around 7,000 trees in 2017.

Mambalot had never been flooded before, she insisted. If there are any, she explained, it will only be the national highway that will be flooded.

“Yung Sitio Rizal namin yan talaga yung ilalim ng minahan. Sa Mambalot yan. Hindi yan dati binabaha. Kung may baha man sa Mambalot yung dito sa highway. Siguro hanggang tuhod sa mga bahay, pero hindi naman lahat ng bahay ay binabaha. Pero second time na nag-rescue na kami sa Rizal. Umaga pa lang yun, ang tawag na ay hindi na sila marerescue ng MDRRMO, kailangan na raw ng Coast Guard kasi lagpas tao na [ang baha],” she said.

“Hindi nakakapagtaka na talagang babahain doon kasi maraming ilog doon. Malalaking ilog ang dyan sa northern barangays. Ibig sabihin watershed. Ngayon bubuksan mo ang watershed, ay talagang pagka umulan nga ng ganyan ay ganyan nga ang kakalabasan,” she added.

Feliciano is particularly concerned about the laterite that was washed away by the floods.

She claimed they can be found in farm fields even after the floods had already subsided, and they can even be observed inside residents’ homes.

“Kakaiba itong bahang ito kasi pagkatapos ng baha may naiwan sa mga bahay. Mula doon sa Mambalot, Barong-bong, Ipilan may bakas. Dati kapag bumaha man kapag natapos na yung baha, tuyo na. Ngayon, hindi eh. Yung sakahan talagang kitang kita ang laterite,” Feliciano noted

This prompted the Sangguniang Bayan to call for an independent investigation into the flooding incident.

Feliciano claimed that even though she had expected the worst, she had not anticipated that mining’s effects would manifest in Brooke’s Point so quickly.

Feliciano hinted that it doesn’t take an expert to know the real cause of the recent calamity that hit their town.

“Iniisip ko kasi baka mangyari ito after 10 years or after 20 years pa. Di ko alam after 6 month of operation ay may ganyan na,” she said

“Kung yun ang iniisip ng maraming tao, yun din ang iniisip ko,” she said. (with a report from Marialen Galicia-Archie)

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