Shrine landslide spurs calls for quick action

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Friday, May 16, 2014


ENVIRONMENTALISTS urged the City Government of Davao to hasten the publication of the New Zoning Ordinance to fully protect the Shrine Hills from further urbanization and prevent another landslide in the area.

This, after the Shrine Hills advocates were alarmed of a landslide that occurred in Davao Shrine Hills, near Purok 24 (Garcia Settlers Village), on April 20.

The 16th Davao City Council approved the New Zoning Ordinance as incorporated in the Davao City Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Clup) on June 24, 2013.

The revised Clup and Zoning Ordinance declared Shrine Hills an Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zone.

According to the Clup and Zoning Ordinance, Shrine Hills is now “intended for massive greening program for ecological enhancement as precautionary and pro-active approach to climate change adaptation and part of risk reduction management program against flooding, landslide and inundation as the edges and slopes of the ridge or hill are found to be highly susceptible to landslide and therefore the same is hereby declared protected at all times...”

However, the ordinance has no Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) yet, pending the publication.

In fact, members of the 17th City Council on Tuesday raised the need to publish the ordinance in local newspapers as soon as possible since numbers of developers applied for some permits in protected areas as identified in the Clup.

J. Stacey Baird of Save the Shrine Hills Movement sent photos of the landslide in Purok 24.

According to him, the incident happened two days before the International Earth Day on April 22.

“While the damage to the slope is very substantial, no houses of nearby residents were hit. A big big number of fruit bearing coconut trees and mango trees were uprooted and carried down the slope by the landslide,” he said.

A check at the place a month after the landslide showed no improvement in the place, posing high risks of another landslide.

“Initial investigation by local Ma-a residents shows that the slide has resulted in a dangerous cliff or ridge of around 80 meters long and a precipice of 25 meters deep. The eroded soil has continued to move down gradually, affecting several hectares of adjacent lands,” Baird said.

“One resident commented: “The landslide happened during a period when there were no rains for several weeks. With the coming rainy months we can expect that more soil will come down.” Nearby residents are apprehensive that the eroded soil will become a mudflow posing a potential danger to nearby communities,” he said.

For the Shrine Hills advocates, the recent landslide is a manifestation of the “general unstable soil of Shrine Hill.”

Baird cited the geologic and geo-hazard assessment by the DENR and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in November 2009, quoting its highly “environmentally sensitive and susceptible to erosion and mass movements that could be triggered by misguided human development activity.”

“The big April 2014 landslide in Shrine Hills shows that the massive greening program of Shrine Hills to stabilize the slopes and prevent geo hazards must take off immediately,” the statement read. (ANC)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 17, 2014.

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