Seeking 4.2 billion in damages, a group of 39 residents and 12 lawyers on Wednesday filed a class suit against government and a mining firm following the landslide that killed more than 70 people in Naga City, Cebu in September.
Impleaded before the Naga City Regional Trial Court Branch 76 were the Naga City government, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and the Apo Cement and Quarry Corporation (ACQC).
The petitioners said the respondents violated the Philippine Mining Act and Article 2, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that: "The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."
The group said the deadly landslide, triggered by days of heavy rains, could have been prevented if the agencies concerned had acted upon quarry operations in the area.
With lawyers doing the case pro bono, the petitioners sought P4.2 billion in damages to provide for those who lost homes and loved ones in the incident, and to cover the cost of rehabilitation.
"This is justice for my son who died in the landslide," said resident Juditha Silana, among the petitioners.
Naga City Mayor Kristine Chiong refused to comment as she has yet to receive a copy of the complaint. She said she was willing to face the charges and denied allegations that she had threatened to deprive those who join the class suit of humanitarian assistance.
Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III in a text message said: "We will comment if the court will tell us to answer, we will give our answers."
The ACQC has yet to issue a statement.
- report from Annie Perez, ABS-CBN News