Itogon a high-risk area for landslides, expert says

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2018 04:20 AM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA - With or without mining operations, the steep slopes of Itogon, Benguet are highly susceptible to landslide, an expert said Monday.

Prof. Mahar Lagmay, executive director of UP-NOAH Center at the UP Resilience Institute, said torrential rains dumped by typhoon Ompong in the mountainous province softened and eroded the earth.

"Puwedeng may contribution ang pagmimina. Pero kung ako ang tatanungin mo, nandun na, kahit walang pagmimina, ang mga kondisyon na sapat para magkaroon ng landslide," he told "Bandila sa DZMM."

The deadly landslide claimed the lives of local miners and their families, while scores remained missing.

The loss of lives from the landslide, Lagmay said, could have also been prevented.

He said the victims in Barangay Ucab, where the landslide struck, could have taken shelter to a much safer ground, some 200 or 600 meters away.

Lagmay stressed that a hazard map, which is also available online, should be cascaded by local government units to concerned communities.

"Kailangan kasi malawakan 'yung ganung klase ng programa. Ibaba mo para magamit ng mga komunidad, nung mga tao sa barangay, 'yung impormasyon na bigay ng siyensiya," he said.

On Twitter, Lagmay lamented that an atlas of Benguet, which shows a highly-detailed hazard map, was ready for printing in 2015 but didn't happen.

"We were not able to print them and distribute to each and every barangay," he wrote.

Ompong swept through northern Philippines Friday night with heavy rains and strong winds.

In the wake of the typhoon's onslaught, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued a cease and desist order in small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region, among the worst hit by Ompong.