WHEN heavy rains fell last Saturday afternoon to evening, alarms were raised for residents in areas prone to landslides to beware and be prepared to evacuate.
This has become the new normal whenever a heavy downpour lasts for hours in Cebu. Aside from the expected flooding in the metro areas, the danger for those in the towns and hinterlands is on the possibility that rainwater would loosen rocks and soil and bring these down to residents below.
Even before the landslides in Barangay Tina-an in the City of Naga last month, the danger was already there. The Naga incident, where 78 residents lost their lives and hundreds were rendered homeless, just made the possibility of landslides in any part of Cebu urgent.
Residents of Sitio Sandayong, Barangay Buhisan, Cebu City are afraid what happened in Naga would happen in their locality. This was the reason they called on authorities to assess the danger and move them to a safer place. They were concerned that a crack on a mountainside, caused by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Oct. 15, 2013, appeared to be widening. Reports said there are 30 houses below the Buhisan slope and at least 300 persons may have to be evacuated as a preemptive measure.
An evaluation of the situation by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 is being awaited to determine if experts see a danger in Buhisan. The MGB 7, hampered by several requests for investigation of landslide-prone areas and with only six geologists doing field work, was scheduled to undertake an evaluation yesterday, Monday.
You can’t blame residents for being scared as their heightened alert every heavy downpour is a consequence of the City of Naga tragedy.
Naga landslide victims will mark the 40th day after the loss of their loved ones in the September 20 tragedy by October 29 or 30, depending on the start of the count. The day, nevertheless, will fall at the time when people troop to cemeteries to pay their respects for the dead.
While others may have Halloween or trick or treat thoughts, Naga landslide survivors and those living in landslide-prone areas will be counting on those days the lessons that government, private sector and residents should have learned.
The MGB will release the results of its investigation into what triggered the soil to rush down and bury residents last September 20. The agency used radar and geo-resistivity surveys to check underground geological structures. For those affected, the hope is for the investigation to find out who should answer for the tragedy.
Families of those who perished are talking with lawyers on the plan to file a P1-billion damage suit against officials of Apo Land and Quarry Corp., its business partner Cemex, MGB, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the City Government of Naga.
Beyond the compensation for damages and accountability of offices, the hypervigilance to potential danger or heightened sense of alertness after every prolonged downpour should pressure government to act fast.
October 22, 2018
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