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By Rafael Reyes

HISTORY repeats itself and, most often, people perish when they ignore the lessons of history or the signs that it will repeat itself.

Prior to the recent landslide that washed-out the community in Barangay Masara in Maco, Davao de Oro, the flourishing community was sitting on top of the ruins of an old community buried deep from a previous landslide 16 years ago in 2008.

The geo-hazard map of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) marked the area as a danger zone, a critical area. But despite the standing “no-build-zone” policy, numerous residential structures and establishments were erected within the prohibited area.

For the second time around, they were gone now and buried under the rubbles from the recent landslide.

Apparently, people have been unmindful of the signs that the landslide of 2008 will happen again. But, can we blame them?

Some reports claimed that in Barangay Masara, no warning signs have been put in place to inform the people that they are standing on a landslide prone area. The local government even allowed a school and other permanent structures to be built in the area that’s clearly declared as a “danger zone”.

No wonder it gave the people the false sense of safety. The LGU simply encouraged community settlement disregarding clear safety vulnerability.

As we look forward to the opening of the Congressional Inquiry called by ACT-CIS Party-list Representative Erwin Tulfo, the Congress should seriously look into the culpability of Mayor Voltaire Rimando and Masara Barangay Captain Dumalagan for their gross negligence.

Dumalagan, for one, should explain why he should not be held responsible for culpable violations of the law and policies that strictly restricted the building of communities and permanent structure in a place identified as landslide prone area. Reports said it was Dumalagan who allegedly insisted that a public school be built there along with other permanent government structures and business establishments.

Was it dictated by politics? To preserve and secure not the population, but his votes?

It is timely for the Congress to find ways to upend the penalty for local government executives whose being remiss to their responsibilities resulted in a massive damage of lives and properties, especially if the magnitude of the tragedy might justify their perpetual disqualification to hold public office.

We can’t let another set of local government officials to allow building again on top of the recent landslide rubbles.



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