FIVE years after a massive landslide killed 78 people in the City of Naga, a school located in a high-risk area has been relocated, places susceptible to landslides have been checked, and the City is now better prepared, financially, to address unexpected incidents, said Mayor Valdemar Chiong.
Chiong said they learned several lessons from the tragedy including the need to exercise prudence in spending funds so that resources are available in times of need.
“We learned not to spend money indiscriminately so that during emergencies, there will be funds available for use,” he said in Cebuano.
The landslide hit Sitio Sindulan, Barangay Tinaan and Barangay Naalad, on Sept. 20, 2018 burying dozens of people alive and forcing then mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong to order the immediate evacuation of 1,400 families. About 975 of the families were able to return to their homes about three months later and had returned to their normal lives.
Aside from the still to be completed national government housing project for over 100 families forced to leave the area, Chiong said the City built 50 more houses.
Displaced families were given the option to either resettle in the houses provided for them or collect P150,000 in cash assistance.
Areas that are susceptible to landslides had also been checked and a school in Barangay Cantao-an with over 4,000 students has been relocated. Chiong said the relocation was additional cost to the City Government.
In 2019, he said around P60 million would be needed to build 60 new classrooms for at least 1,500 elementary and high school students. The City Government then set aside P30 million for the project and tapped the Department of Education for more funding.
Following the incident, there was finger pointing between the local government unit and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 over who was responsible for the loss of lives after the City implied that the MGB 7 committed negligence for clearing Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC) of any wrongdoing when cracks were found in some parts of Sitio Tagaytay, Barangay Tina-an, where some of the company’s quarry area was located, ahead of the landslide.
At around 6 a.m. of Sept. 20, 2018, more than two hectares of Sitio Tagaytay collapsed and created a landslide that covered the neighboring sitio of Sindulan.
The incident prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to suspend quarry operations in eight regions in the country. MGB 7 later required ALQC to put up a retaining wall to prevent soil erosion and protect the community from the remains of the landslide.