January 17, 2012

 

Press Release:

MGB XI:  Pantukan landslide is a casualty seen earlier and was already relayed to… when will we ever learn?

As early as 2006, the Municipality of Pantukan has already been mapped for geohazard susceptibility with certain barangays identified as high risk to landslide. Barangays that are highly susceptible to landslide, for years now, have been regularly monitored especially those identified as gold rush areas. Once an area undergoes geohazard mapping and is rated highly susceptible to landslide, flooding or other geohazard, local government officials are immediately advised to relocate residents to safer areas.

Pantukan is hub to small-scale mining operations where miners gather and indiscriminately dig tunnels without so much a thought on securing the required permits.  Brgy. Napnapan alone, has several gold rush areas such as Diat Uno, Diat Dos, Diat Tres, Diat Palo, Boringot, Biasong, Sitio Lit-Ag and others, where illegal small-scale miners arbitrarily dig out holes without regard to the environment and to the safety of other people living in the area.

The Panganason landslide. April 22, 2011.

On April 22, 2011, a landslide occurred in Purok Side B, Sitio Panganason, Pantukan, Compostela Valley Province where a number of people died, several houses and shanties were damaged and tunnels, ball mills and gold processing facilities were buried. An investigation of the affected area as well as its vicinities was conducted.

In that investigation, aside from finding out the causes and factors involved in the Panganason landslide, it was also found out that Diat Uno in Napnapan has several tension cracks and active landslide which prompted the MGB RXI Office to issue a Landslide Threat Advisory as early as of May 2011, advising the concerned LGU to relocate the residents and/or to be extra cautious especially during times when there is heavy rainfall or when the tension cracks worsen.  The Office of MGB XI even mentioned this in a press release titled, “ MGB: Panganason landslide is human induced”, that came out in Mindanao Daily Mirror on April 30, 2011. In the said press release MGB XI emphasized the immediacy of the situation in Diat Uno in Napnapan, requiring the attention of the local government officials to address the danger posed by the geohazards seen during the investigation. During this time also, the hazards that were observed were also relayed in a meeting conducted with the local officials of the municipality.

Diat 1, 2 and 3 Napnapan, Pantukan Landslide. January 5, 2012.

Reports from the office of Civil Defense RXI (OCD-RXI) said that a landslide occurred on or about 3:00 AM of  January 5, 2012 in Diat 1, 2 and 3 in Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan, Comval following a continuous rainfall for several days.

Immediately after receiving the said report, a technical staff was sent to the area to assess the situation. Other government agencies as well as non-government groups also responded to the call. Search, rescue and retrieval operations were conducted in the affected area. As of January 16, 2012, the Office of Civil Defense accounted 41 dead casualties (37 identified, 4 unidentified), 16 injured and 42 others missing.

 

In the reports submitted by the technical staff who conducted the investigation of the Napnapan, Pantukan landslide, it was noted that as of May last year, during the conduct of a detailed geohazard mapping, several tension cracks and active landslides were already observed and mapped in the area and its vicinities. Further, the affected portions (Diat 1, 2 and 3) have already been previously identified as high to very high risk to landslide and is considered as a critical zone, hence the issuance of landslide Threat Advisory to LGU concerned advising the evacuation of residents in the area.

Follow-up reports.

As of January 12 2012, OCD-RXI reports said that the local government has enforced a forced evacuation order to the families who are residing in the affected areas. Houses and structures were demolished but a hundred more refused to vacate until an agreement for voluntary demolition was reached.  OCD-RXI distributed financial assistance to the families of those who died in the incident and to those who were injured and brought to Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City. An emergency meeting was conducted and was attended by local officials, Municipal Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Coordinating Council (MDRRMC) members, government agencies and NGOs. As a result, the municipality was declared under the state of calamity and an Incident Command System was established led by the incident Commander and MDRRMC Spokesperson Dr. Bong Lantayo.

A press conference was also conducted, attended by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, to which the following  resolutions were agreed upon: first, immediate evacuation and closure of mining operations at Diat area; second, affected small-scale miners, majority of whom are not from Pantukan, be given financial assistance and asked to return to their respective provinces; third, MGB to identify other landslide prone areas; and lastly, all gold-processing facilities be dismantled and be transferred to identified mineral processing zone within the agreed period.

Make use of Geohazard Maps to avoid similar events.

As early as 2004, steps to establish a systematized geohazard mapping were already taken by the MGB.  Afterward, in spite of lack of funds, a National Geohazard Mapping Program was put in place with the objective of “identifying areas in the country that are susceptible or prone to various geologic hazards and providing the vital information to various stakeholders in order to lessen or mitigate the impacts of these events”.

The local government officials of different municipalities and provinces of Region-XI in 2006, 2007 and 2008 were provided with geohazard data of their respective areas, MGB RXI Regional Director Edilberto L. Arreza urges the LGU officials to make use of the geohazard data to avoid landslide, flooding and other hazards and to ultimately prevent loss of lives and properties.

“Our localities would have avoided so much loss and damages had they listened to the advices of our technical staff. The geohazard data is there for us to make a decision. The MGB Office is here to provide technical support in terms of identifying more stable areas for residential and/or relocation purposes. The Office is also here if the miners would want technical data on how to do responsible mining. As to the LGUs, it is now up to them to make the first move in effecting change in their areas to bring about a safe and hazard-free environment for their constituents,” MGB RXI Director Arreza said.

Contact Person:

EDILBERTO L. ARREZA

Regional  Director, MGB RXI