Davao Region

2,669 communities highly vulnerable to landslides in Davao Region – OCD

Ferdinand Zuasola

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2,669 communities highly vulnerable to landslides in Davao Region – OCD

BURIED. An aerial view of the Masara landslide in Maco town, Davao de Oro.

Office of Civil Defense-Davao

As early as 2008, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau recommended that the landslide area in Masara in Davao de Oro be declared as a no-build-zone because of the threat of disaster

DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) identified on Monday, February 19, at least 2,669 communities that are endangered of being wiped out by landslides across the Davao region.

The disclosure came amid mounting calls for the government to strictly enforce recommendations outlined in the hazard map produced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), following a recent deadly landslide that claimed numerous lives in the mining village of Davao de Oro province.

Ednar Dayanghirang, OCD-Davao Region director, said there was an urgent need for the government to address the looming landslide disasters in these areas to prevent another catastrophic event like the massive landslide that struck the mining village of Masara in the town of Maco in Davao de Oro province on February 6.

As of 7 pm on February 18, the provincial government of Davao de Oro reported that disaster responders had retrieved 98 cadavers from the landslide area in Barangay Masara, with efforts ongoing to locate the eight more still missing.

Speaking at the Kapehan sa Davao forum in Davao City, Dayanghirang pointed out that the threat of landslides is a national problem requiring a strategic solution.

“There should be legislation with teeth to enforce the no-build-zone recommendations of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. While local ordinances are in place, landslide disasters are a national issue. We need national legislation with enforceable measures,” said Dayanghirang.

MGB-Davao said it had recommended in 2008 for the local government of Davao de Oro to declare the landslide area in the village of Masara as a no-build-zone following a similar tragedy that claimed numerous lives in the same village that year.

However, the recommendation from MGB-Davao went unheeded as thousands continued to construct structures such as residential houses, a bus terminal for workers of mining firm Apex Mining Corporation, and even a barangay hall.

In nearby Davao Oriental province, which also experienced a series of recent massive landslides and flash floods, calls have intensified for the government to relocate immediately those residing in landslide and flood-prone areas to safer grounds.

“Local government units must utilize and not disregard the geohazard maps. We call upon all local councils to enforce the implementation of relocation plans for high-risk settlements, and urge city planning and housing departments to take proactive measures,” said Dr. Roy Ponce, president of the state-run Davao Oriental State University.

Ponce said the Masara tragedy should serve as a wake-up call, especially for key political and developmental stakeholders. 

He said Davao Oriental’s infrastructure is weak in all aspects and that a mere four days of heavy rainfall have proven to be disastrous for many areas. 

Ponce called on the government to ensure that local infrastructure is reinforced to withstand disasters. 

“May our local leaders learn valuable lessons from the deadly landslides and heavy floods that hit our province. May they come up with a strong design and a clear development direction that would ensure the safety of everyone and set aside corruption. Otherwise, these deadly disasters would never end and the people would just get used to it,” he said. – Rappler.com

Seeing no more signs of life, Davao de Oro landslide rescuers shift to retrieval

Seeing no more signs of life, Davao de Oro landslide rescuers shift to retrieval

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