Monday, June 17, 2019

Area that collapsed in Naga 'highly susceptible to landslide'

Photo courtesy of Aigen Ravanes

AN area in Sitio Sindulan, Barangay Tina-an in the City of Naga had long been declared highly susceptible to landslide by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7.

These were the findings that the agency submitted to the City Government after it discovered cracks on the ground in Sitio Tagaytay last Aug. 29.

Tagaytay is 700 meters to one kilometer away from Sitio Sindulan, where the landslide occurred Thursday morning, killing 18 persons and burying countless others alive.

READ: 4 dead, dozens buried in massive Naga, Cebu landslide

The cracks were right outside the quarry of Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC).

“The crack reported to us was investigated by virtue of the request of the local government unit (LGU). So we investigated it. Our expert (geologist) went to the site and we found out that the crack... is a natural phenomena on a limestone formation. So it is not directly associated with the (quarry) operation. That is in Sitio Tagaytay,” said Officer-in-Charge MGB 7 Director Armando Malicse.

Malicse went to Sitio Tagaytay to determine if the 45-meter-long and 10-centimeter-wide cracks they found last month played a part in the Sindulan landslide.

He said ALQC informed the residents about the cracks after these were discovered.

“It was thoroughly done by the company, with us sitting on top telling the company to do their corporate responsibility... it was ordered by our director that while they continue to do whatever activity they had in the area, they must put most prime consideration on the safety of the people,” he said.

Economically unviable

Malicse added that ALQC’s quarry operation was temporarily halted on the advice of the LGU, pending the result of the investigation.

“They stopped for a while and also with the intervention of the LGU, but because it is also economically important, the activity has to continue,” he said.

If the results of their investigation show that Thursday’s landslide was not caused by a natural phenomenon, Malicse said the company might be held liable.

“The fact that it is within their (ALQC’s) property, there is always that liability... If it is a natural phenomenon, that’s another story,” he said.

“According to our regulation, once there is a situation like this, only the operation in a danger zone must be stopped because we don’t want also to sacrifice the total economic distribution of cement, especially with the ‘Build, Build’ project of the President. If you stop quarrying, it will affect the making of cement and that would entail the shortage of about 220,000 bags a day. That is not healthy,” he added.

Meanwhile, ALQC clarified that although they have mining rights in the area, they have not started their quarry operations in Sitios Tagaytay and Sindulan.

Chito Maniago, company spokesperson, said they have quarries in the city but not near the landslide site.

But based on aerial photos of the affected area, the two sitios are located next to a quarry.

Maniago said they recently conducted house-to-house visits to advise residents to move out of the area.

They also coordinated with the City of Naga and the MGB 7 after the company was informed of the discovered cracks, he said.

Maniago said they’ve distributed food and water at the landslide site.

They’re also studying the possibility of providing financial assistance to the victims’ families, he said. HBL (HBL/VLA/SunStar Philippines)


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