LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Horacio Ramos is warning the people of Mankayan to leave danger zones.

“These areas are known to have landslides and people have to get out,” Ramos said.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

Past studies of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed ground instabilities within Poblacion, Mankayan area were first observed in the 1970s and the town is very prone to massive earth movements due to physical and geological factors.

The area lies on a fault line.

Ramos called on the local government unit to work on relocating residents still living in the hazard areas of the town. The newly installed DENR chief said twin reasons can be pinned as the cause of the town’s sinking.

“What caused the landslides is a combination of many factors. Not only should the mining companies be blamed,” he said.

Mankayan Mayor Manalo Galuten has pointed to mining giant Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation (LCMC) as the culprit and likewise called on the firm for aid last year.

The relocation of over 3,000 residents and two school buildings from the sunken Poblacion has saddled the local government for months.

An assessment says P93 million is needed to relocate residents and structures from the sunken areas to safer grounds.

The mayor of the mining town has junked studies made by the DENR-MGB department pointing to the fault line as the cause of sinking of the town’s center proper.

Still, Ramos called on stakeholders to talk about solutions instead of pointing fingers.

The MGB has no known reports of a town likened to the Mankayan area where sinking has been of this magnitude.

Mankayan is a mining town, where LCMC has been drilling and blasting in the area for decades.