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Itogon mayor: No resettlement site yet for families living in landslide-prone areas

/ 01:23 PM September 27, 2018
Army rescuers in Itogon

Rescuers carry a body recovered from a landslide caused by Typhoon “Ompong” (internationally known as “Mangkhut”) in Itogon, Benguet province on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said that at the height of the typhoon’s onslaught Saturday afternoon, dozens of people, mostly miners and their families, rushed into an old three-story building in the village of Ucab. The building, a former mining bunkhouse that had been transformed into a chapel, was obliterated when part of a mountain slope collapsed. AP file photo

The local government of Itogon in Benguet has not yet found a permanent resettlement site for over 500 families living in areas declared as landslide-prone, Mayor Victorio Palangdan said.

Palangdan said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer on Thursday that they are exploring the possibility that affected residents would have to totally leave the town.

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“‘Yong mga na-displace, wala kaming mahanapan na pagtatayuan ng resettlement.  Kaya ang ginagawa namin ngayon, nakikipag-coordinate na kami sa national line agencies for the possible plan of resettlement outside the municipality of Itogon,” he said.

(Those who were displaced, we still cannot find a place for their resettlement. That is why what we are doing now is that we are coordinating with the national line agencies for the possible plan of resettlement outside the municipality of Itogon.)

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On Tuesday, the Mines and Geosciences Board (MGB) has declared 184 hectares of land in Itogon as susceptible to landslides, including the staging area used by authorities involved in rescue operations in a landslide at Barangay Ucab, which claimed at least 75 lives.

In their report, MGB also found out that Itogon’s municipal hall is also located in a hazardous area, something that Palangdan acknowledged.

“Alam ko po ang lahat, may kopya po ako ng findings ng MGB, at kaya nga pinulong ko ‘yong mga punong barangay at mga kapulisan sa gagawin namin ngayong pre-emptive evacuation,” he explained.

(I know all of it, I have a copy of the findings of MGB, and that is why we are convening the heads of the villages and the police on what preemptive evacuation measure we will do.)

According to him, several families have already moved out of the areas, while around 500 families will start evacuating on Thursday.

“Umalis na po sila (families), at ‘yong pinaplano nating i-likas uli, ay mga more or less 500 families also,” Palangdan told Radyo Inquirer.

“Nakapag-usap na po kami sa kapulisan, at sila po ay pupunta sa iba’t ibang lugar na delikado.  Makipag-coordinate sila sa barangay officials at ang NDRRO (National Disaster Risk Reduction Office),” he added.

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MGB has enlisted Barangay Poblacion, Sitio Goldfield, Barangay Virac in Sitio Batuang, Sitio Balatoc, Sitio Bubon, Sitio City Limit, and  Barangay Ampucao as landslide-prone areas.

READ: Palace looking into role of gov’t negligence in Itogon landslides

However, Palangdan said that another problem that they are facing is the loss of jobs due to the suspension of mining operations.

“Ang pinaka-masaklap dito po ay mawawalan sila nag trabaho dahil sa pinatitigil na po ang mining dito sa amin,” he said.

(The worst thing is the loss of employment becuase of the suspension of mining operations.)

After typhoon “Ompong” made landfall on September 15, small-scale miners in Barangay Ucab were buried alive after the land, where a makeshift chapel was situated, softened and eroded.

The incident has prompted Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to suspend all mining operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region, to avoid further accidents and landslides. /jpv

READ: Cimatu suspends all small-scale mining operations in Cordillera

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TAGS: Benguet, Itogon, Landslide, Local news, Mayor Palangdan, mines and Geosciences Board, Philippine news update
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