Bacolor mayor blames lahar warning for lack of investors

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - Bacolor town Mayor Jose Mari “Jomar” Hizon is blaming the stalled economic development of his town to the warning issued by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum in 2016 on the possibility of lahar flows during heavy rains.

Hizon claimed that Solidum's "unsolicited statements" scared away potential investors and cost his town a lot of business and development opportunities.

The mayor was referring to the statement Solidum issued to Pampanga-based mediamen in June 2016, saying that heavy rains that will be brought about by an Ondoy-like typhoon may trigger lahar flows and flooding in Pampanga.

Solidum had said that lahar flows remain a lingering threat more than two decades since Mount Pinatubo erupted, particularly in areas in and around the FVR megadike which is mostly in Bacolor town.

It has been two years since Solidum issued the warning, but Hizon said investors are still hesitant to invest in Bacolor.

Hizon described Bacolor as "very investor-friendly" with vast and low-cost properties still available.

The town now has an ideal elevation compared to other towns in Pampanga due to the lahar deposits following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 but investors are very minimal, Hizon said.

“Until now, no one is investing in my municipality dahil sabi niya (Solidum) may threat ng lahar. Sino nga naman ang mag-iinvest kung natatakot ka. Ang nangyayari ngayon, sariling langoy kami,” Hizon said.

Hizon also disclosed that Phivolcs never discussed with the municipal government of Bacolor the said pronouncement, including the study conducted in 2008 which Solidum cited.

The mayor is now demanding a clarification from Solidum regarding the real situation of the province and the town in terms of lahar threat.

"Otherwise a complete retraction of his statement (is in order)," he said.

“Kung seryoso talaga siya, sana nakipag-usap o tinawagan niya muna ako para nasolusyunan sana namin imbes na pumutak sa sa media. Parang tinakot niya lang ang mga tao e, kaya kailangan klaruhin niya itong sinabi niya para malaman ng mga investors na ligtas na ang Bacolor sa lahar,” the mayor said.
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