Public viewing of Maria Cristina Falls halted amid safety issues | Inquirer News

Public viewing of Maria Cristina Falls halted amid safety issues

/ 04:30 AM August 21, 2023

Public viewing of Maria Cristina Falls halted amid safety issues

MAJESTIC Maria Cristina Falls, in this undated photo, does not only power the turbines of the Agus 6 and Agus 7 hydroelectric plants along the Agus River but has also been a major tourist spot of Iligan City. The site is now off-limits to visitors because of the risks posed by landslides along the road leading to the falls. —RICHEL V. UMEL

ILIGAN CITY—As the month-long Diyandi festival in this city draws near, the Mindanao regional office of the National Power Corp. (Napocor) announced over the weekend the suspension of all public viewing at the majestic Maria Cristina Falls due to the series of landslides along its access road that could put the lives of the visiting public at risk.

Larry Sabellina, vice president of Napocor Mindanao, said they needed to make the public announcement as crowds were expected to come in time for the Diyandi festival to be celebrated in this city next month, which would culminate on Sept. 29, the feast day of Señor San Miguel, the city’s patron saint.


Sabellina said a series of landslides, specifically along the road connecting the Agus 6 and Agus 7 hydroelectric power plants, occurred as far back as April 19 last year and had continued intermittently especially during prolonged heavy rains, making travel to the area quite risky.


Lawyer Edgar Ramirez, Agus 6 and Agus 7 plant manager, said they would need at least P105 million for the slope protection alone and that the urgency of the project was beyond tourism concerns.

“It goes beyond the interest of tourism, as power would be disrupted if personnel operating and maintaining the Agus 6 and 7 hydroelectric plants could no longer enter the area because of the problem,” he said.


He added: “We need to fix the access road to ensure the safety and availability of personnel operating and maintaining the plant. Complete closure of the access road in the event of massive landslides would deprive our personnel passage to the plant.”

He said the landslides were usually brought about by heavy rains that at times would stretch for days, causing the ground along the slopes to loosen and collapse.

Ramirez showed to the Inquirer a closed-circuit television footage taken on Jan. 13, showing how three Napocor personnel narrowly escaped death when an avalanche of boulders and debris cascaded through and buried the access road only seconds after they passed while inspecting the area.

He said Army troops from the 55th Engineering Brigade and their heavy equipment had always come to help them during landslides.


According to Sabellina, public viewing would resume only after engineering intervention would be implemented next year by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), along with the lone congressional district of Iligan.

Engr. Maria Badelles David, district engineer of DPWH’s Iligan engineering district, told the Inquirer that they requested that the P105 million needed to build the slope protection along Agus 6 and Agus 7 would either be funded under their regional budget program or through the agency’s National Expenditures Program.

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David said they also sought funding from Sen. Mark Villar and from Malacañang. INQ

TAGS: Maria Cristina Falls, tourist spots

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