Rescuers now on search, retrieval operations in landslide-hit Naga City
NAGA CITY, Cebu — Rescuers have now shifted to search-and-retrieval operations after no signs of life were detected underneath the massive landslide that covered more than 50 houses in Barangay Tinaan, Naga, on Sept. 20.
Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong of Naga agreed to the recommendation of the Incident Management Team (IMT) as more bodies were dug up from the area.
As of 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the death toll stood at 63 with 18 injured and 28 still missing.
“I trust that we have exerted all our efforts, because it’s going to be the seventh day of our search-and-rescue operations,” said Chiong.
Baltazar Tribunalo Jr., head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief, said they had not found any signs of life underneath the rubble.
“We were hoping for any signs of life. The Quick Response Team (QRT) has assessed the area for the third time but all sectors (of the area) showed no signs of life,” he added.
Chiong said two teams from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Office were assigned in the city to investigate the landslide and assess the two possible locations for a relocation site.
But for the residents, the quarry operations of a cement company were to blame for the landslide.
On Tuesday, at least 30 members of an environmental advocacy group, Pusyon Kinaiyahan, and relatives of the landslide victims staged protest rallies in front of the Apo Cement Corporation (Cemex) plant in Barangay Tinaan and at the City Hall, demanding that quarry operations in the mountains of Naga City be completely stopped.
Waving black flaglets, the ralliers cried their lungs out in front of the Apo Cemex plant in a show of frustration over the number of fatalities that the landslide has claimed and desperation over the slow rescue and retrieval operations.
“If you did not quarry the mountains, there would be no landslide and those people would not have died, said Bro. Peter Simon Jardinica of Pusyon Kinaiyahan in Cebuano.
Apo Land and Quarry Corporation (ALQC), the raw material supplier of Apo Cemex, has mining rights over an area in Sitio Tagaytay.
But Chito Maniago, the representative of the ALQC, said in previous reports that the company has not started any quarry operation in the area yet and that their actions in Sitio Tagaytay were limited to road access development.
Residents, however, vehemently belied the company’s defense.
Cherry Candol, one of the protestors, said her cousin Genaro Segovia, who works as a watchman for Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC), was among those buried in soil and debris in Sitio Tagaytay.
Candol said Segovia was at the tenement of ALQC to look after the backhoe and other heavy equipment in the area the night before the landslide happened.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.