SUNSTAR Cebu’s special report titled “Over 260 Barangays at Risk of Landslides, Storm Surge in Cebu” confirmed what we have been pointing out since the killer landslide hit the City of Naga in September: local government units (LGUs) may not have been giving those distributed hazard maps jointly created by Pagasa, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) the importance they deserve.
Those hazard maps identified areas in localities that are prone to or vulnerable to storm surge, floods and landslides during rainy days and typhoons. Meaning, these were meant to guide LGUs in their efforts to reduce risks especially when weather disturbances visit their jurisdictions.
Five years after super typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas and sparked storm surges that killed hundreds in Tacloban City and other areas, it does look like nothing much has changed in the way many LGUs do things. Did those hazard maps, for example, imbue local government officials with a sense of urgency needed for them to adequately prepare their constituents for incoming calamities?
Apparently not, if the admission by Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Baltazar Tribunalo, that despite their best efforts in telling LGUs to transfer residents living in landslide-prone barangays, not all have relocated them to safer ground, is true. And that’s only for landslide-prone areas. What about those in other danger zones?
Consider: 260 barangays in 21 towns and six cities in Cebu have moderate to very high/critical risks of landslide, according to MGB 7. Meanwhile, at least 30 barangays in 16 towns and cities also in Cebu are vulnerable to storm surges, according to Pagasa. Apparently, local government officials already know about it from the hazard maps or through MGB and Pagasa people.
Many of these officials are like the owner of a house whose roof leaks every time it rains and which has gone into a state of disrepair for years. When told about the leaks, the official’s stock answer was: “Motulo ra bitaw na’g mag-uwan.”