DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines — The city government of Mati Oriental deployed horses on Friday, December 30 to being relief supplies to around 500 families stranded in hamlets following a December 29 landslide that killed at least one person.
Charlemagne Bagasol, who heads the Mati City disaster risk reduction and management office, told Rappler on Saturday, December 31 that as the weather clears, officials will also use military choppers to distribute relief goods.
Four days since the village of Don Salvador Lopez was hit by landslides, it remains unreachable by most vehicles. The villages’ main roads were all destroyed by landslides, said Bagasol.
“Right now. we are using horses to bring relief goods to villagers who remain trapped in the hinterland portion,” she said.
“As we work hard to carve a new road from an adjacent village of Tagbinonga, we can only reach out to these trapped villagers through a river,” she added.
“That is why we are contemplating to use military choppers to bring relief goods,” Bagasol told Rappler late Friday afternoon.
Retrieval work on hold
Search and rescue operations were halted midday on Friday because of new landslides.
Work resumed early Saturday, December 31. But around 2 pm, the Mati LGU page announced rescuers’ decision “to indefinitely suspend its retrieval operation on the three still missing bodies.”
Residents of the village said the landslide that struck around 11 am, December 29 buried four men.
Only the body of Cristituto Magmusa Paglanson, 62 yrs old, and the leader of a sub-village has been recovered.
Still missing are Jethro Paglanson Quilat, 14 yrs old; Roberto Pelaez Ampo, 52 yrs old; and John Gel Paglanson Casaligan, 15 yrs old. All are relatives of Paglanson.
The Mati Incident Command Post reached the decision due to the prevailing weather condition and ground movement in the landslide area, the announcement said.
In several mountainous areas of the village, huge boulders were seen rolling down.
“That endangers the lives of our rescue teams. Thus, we decided to halt the search and rescue operation,” Bagasol told Rappler.
At least a hundred rescuers from the army, police, coast guard and the bureau of fire protection joined the search and rescue operation in Mati City Drones and rescue dogs were also deployed in the landslide-hit village.
A 2 pm update on December 31 said relief teams of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, the City Social Welfare and Development Office, and the Barangay had reached four sub-villages.
The remaining three purok are still inaccessible as of Saturday. More than 200 families reside in these areas,
Presidential Assistant for Eastern Mindanao Sec. Leo Abellera Magno has coordinated with the Philippine Air Force for the use of military helicopters in the relief operation.
The LGU said two Huey helicopters are set to arrive on Sunday, January 1, 2023 to airlift more food provisions and personnel to the three purok.
Don Salvador Lopez and adjacent villages are hosts to several small and large-scale mining operations. The village is home to the Mandaya indigenous people who protested the entry of mining operations in their village. -Rappler.com