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Fear of landslides prompts call for stop to gov’t housing plan

/ 06:01 AM July 12, 2015

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—As monsoon rain continues in northern Luzon, residents of this capital town have asked a state-financed housing project to stop excavation work due to fears it may trigger landslides.

The communities of Sitios Buyagan, Gayasi and Kesbeng in Poblacion village said the housing project of the Cordillera Home-Saint Francis Association Inc. (CHSFAI) has endangered households living below the site.

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The CHSFAI is developing a subdivision, funded by the Group Land Acquisition and Development (GLAD) program of the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig) covering 91,101 square meters at Kesbeng village.

In 2009, a typhoon-triggered landslide killed 77 people at the little Kibungan community in Puguis village here but the municipal government has yet to enforce a plan to relocate the survivors.

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Mayor Edna Tabanda ordered the CHSFAI to stop work in May, heeding petitions filed by the villagers.

Last month, 629 residents of the affected communities petitioned the municipal council to revoke CHSFAI’s development permit because they said they were not consulted about the environmental impact of the project.

In their petition, the residents claimed that the earth-moving activities of CHSFAI affected the potable water source of Gayasi and Kesbeng and posed danger to communities below.

On Friday, the town government held a dialogue to get feedback from both the developer and the residents.

Alex Dapiawen, CHSFAI project surveyor, said work stopped in June.

Rafael Tabadero, project architect, said the only activities taking place at the project site were engineering work designed to prevent a slide.

“We cannot stop putting in place the mitigation measures. In fact, we have to fast-track and finish [these measures] as soon as possible considering the weather. We also live in the project site so we understand the concern of the residents,” he said.

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But Leonila Tabdi, a resident of Eastern Buyagan village, said she feared for her community’s safety, believing that the construction work could trigger a mudslide.

On March 3, the La Trinidad council approved another development permit for CHSFAI. On recommendation of the council, Tabanda formed a team to oversee the housing project. Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Benguet, Cordillera, disaster resilience, Home Development Mutual Fund, Housing, housing project, La Trinidad, Landslide, Pag-Ibig
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