Cimatu suspends top DENR execs in Central Visayas
NAGA CITY, Cebu—Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the immediate suspension of top officials of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Visayas following the massive landslide in the village of Tinaan, Naga City, south Cebu.
“An investigation shall be made to find out why, how it happened, and what should we do to avoid a repeat of that incident,” he said at a press conference on Friday.
Ordered relieved were MGB Central Visayas chief head Loreto Alburo, chief finance officer Gerardo Mahusay, supervising geologist Dennis Aleta and chief geologist Al Emil Birador.
Cimatu also ordered a team from Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Manila office to review geohazard mapping in the mountains of Naga City.
Last month, Naga City officials sought the help of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to check on cracks found on the mountainside near the quarry site in the community of Tagaytay in Tinaan, after the cracks became bigger.
On Aug. 29, Mahusay wrote to Naga Mayor Kristine Chiong, assuring her that Tinaan was safe and that there was nothing to worry about. He said the cracks were not related to the quarry.
In an interview, Mahusay clarified that his letter was based on initial results of an inspection made on the same day.
He was supposed to issue a final report on Thursday based on a second inspection also on Wednesday.
Mahusay could not, however, make public yet the content of the final report saying it was with a field worker of MGB.
He said he only signs reports.
The regional MGB office sent a team to investigate the landslide but in a statement on its official website, the bureau said heavy rainfall on Wednesday night and Thursday morning might have loosened soil in Tinaan and another village near the quarrying site, Naalad, and caused the landslide.
“The area is underlain by limestone rocks and cracks and fissures are common,” the regional MGB office said.
In an interview, MGB Central Visayas information officer Marian Codilla said the MGB did not declare the landslide area to be safe.
“Our geologists are still in the area to investigate further,” Codilla said.
Cimatu also suspended the environmental compliance certificate of the quarry operations of APO Land and Quarry Corp.
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