MANILA, Philippines - Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy denied on Friday that flashfloods and landslides, which claimed over 200 lives in the province, were due to mining and illegal logging.
Speaking to reporters, Uy said there was no mining operation in the barangay in New Bataan hit by flashfloods and landslides at the height of typhoon Pablo's onslaught.
"I would make this very clear. 'Yung nangyari ngayon na flooding is not because of mining kasi walang minahan diyan," Uy said.
"Walang mining dito sa bundok kung saan rumagasa ang tubig. Karamihan diyan mga in-land resorts, waterfalls, ibig sabihin maraming tubig sa itaas," he added.
The governor admitted, however, that there are small-scale mining operations in some barangays in New Bataan.
He also said about 10 percent of the Compostela Valley population depends on mining industry as its main source of income.
But Uy claimed no landslide occurred in those mining areas.
"Sa ibang bayan (na may mining areas) fortunately walang reported na landslides," he said.
"Sa Barangay Diwalwal (merong mining) pero walang landslide dun. We have sa Camanlangan, not so near here, walang landslide reported. Manurigao rin (merong mining) which is medyo malayo."
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier said that small-scale mining was one of the factors that led to the disaster.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau Dir. Leo Jasareno, likewise, said that small-scale mining operations are rampant in the municipality of New Bataan.
Paje also said that rampant illegal logging in Davao and Caraga regions should be blamed for typhoon Pablo’s destruction.
Compostela Valley is located in Region 11 (Davao Region).
In a separate interview with radio dzMM, Uy claimed that illegal logging operations in the province have already stopped 40 years ago.
However, planting of new trees in the mountain areas and forests in the province only started a few years ago, he said.
"Ang buong probinsya kasi eh used to be a logging area 40 years ago. Noon kasi alam natin na 'di seryoso 'yung replanting. So the last five or six years (na nag-umpisa 'yung replanting), 'di kinaya 'yung mga bagong tanim, namatay talaga," Uy said.
More doctors, medicines, food supplies
The governor said at least 212 people have been reported dead in the whole province. At least 116 of the reported fatalities were residents of New Bataan, the hardest-hit area by typhoon Pablo.
Uy appealed to the national government and the private sector for more supplies of medicine and food for the evacuees.
"We need donors, doctors to help us. Growing 'yung problema natin ngayon especially sa health. We need to address 'yung pagkain nila, medical needs nila then after that ung shelter naman nila," he said.
Meanwhile, he said search and retrieval operations will continue as many bodies still remain missing.
"May alam nating patay na pero 'di pa nareretrieve. Pero meron pa ring mga survivors sa ibang barangay na medyo napatagal ang punta natin."
Uy said damages in agriculture, particularly coconut and banana plantations, and infrastructure left by typhoon Pablo has already amounted to about P4 billion.
The official death toll from the typhoon has risen to 418, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.
NDRRMC said the figure is expected to rise further with some 383 still missing.