LOCAL government units in the province, heck, in the whole country should take note of the lessons the City Government of Naga has learned in the wake of the deadly landslide that struck Sitio Sindulan in Barangay Tina-an in the early morning of Sept. 20.
For one thing, City officials have finally realized the importance of changing mindsets and policies when it comes to activities that affect the environment.
Take note, quarry and mining operations are not new to the city.
As far as I can remember, they were already in existence when I was a kid in the late ‘70s. My father also told me that they were already there when he was a young boy traveling to visit relatives in Argao in the ‘50s.
Apparently, the history of quarrying and mining in the city goes back a long way. Maybe even before the war. The Americans must have discovered that the limestone in that particular place is of good quality.
So, fastforward several decades and the government has finally realized that new policies are needed that will require businesses and industries in the city to consider existing geological hazards before any development on the site can proceed.
Of course, the City will follow the lead of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 in crafting policies that will help avoid another Sindulan landslide.
That means, the areas surrounding the landslide site must be declared as danger and no habitation zones, as recommended by the agency’s supervising geologist. In other words, people should not be allowed to live there. It’s that simple.
If they approach City officials and beg the latter to change their minds, then they should be reminded that former mayor Val Chiong did just that back in 2009. He went to Apo Land and Quarry Corp., asking it to reconsider demolishing houses in the area because residents had asked him to.
And look what happened.
Even the acting head of the City’s Environment and Natural Resources Office had a Eureka moment after Sept. 20.
Jehan Repollo has finally seen the need to strictly monitor quarry operations, whether large or small, in the city.
After all, Naga is home to four large-scale and nine small-scale quarry operations.
As for City Administrator Arthur Villamor, he has come to realize the importance of coordinating with residents who live near these quarries and collaborating with the MGB and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in identifying geohazards.
If only they had these realizations much earlier, then those 78 lives that were lost would still be alive today.
Well, as they say, better late than never.