BARANGAY Masara in Davao de Oro buried by a landslide has been identified as a “no build zone” since 2008, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) XI revealed.
Beverly Brebante, MGB XI chief geologist, said the village “was already identified as a critical area.”
Two landslides occurred near the site of the Apex Mining Corporation (AMC) at Barangay Masara on Sept. 6 and 7, 2008, affecting 279 families or 1,216 individuals. The tragedy claimed the lives of 24 people and injured 31 others, according to a situational report by the National Disaster Coordinating Council on Sept. 16, 2008.
Brebante said their agency’s succeeding geo-hazard mapping and assessment after the 2008 incident showed the soil movements were active and seemed to be progressing.
“The MGB and DENR, we always issue advisories to the partner agencies the listings of barangays down to the purok level na identified by MGB as areas that are highly to very highly vulnerable to landslide even to flooding,” Brebante said.
The bureau’s latest advisory on Jan. 29 included Masara. The MGB XI inspected the area on Feb. 8, along with the Office of the Civil Defense XI, and they observed several active landslides.
Despite the “no build zone” declaration in 2008, people still occupied the area and built their houses. To date, Masara has 326 households but the total number of residents in Zone 1, or ground zero, is still being validated by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.
Ariel Capoy, Maco Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office incident commander, said Masara residents were already relocated after the 2008 incident but some of them ignored warnings and returned to the area.
Davao de Oro Governor Dorothy Gonzaga said the local government already relocated residents following a series of earthquakes in 2022. In fact, they established relocation sites in New Bataan and Nabunturan.
“I could only say that for the past administration since hindi pa sila na relocate ang mga tao, they have to give the semblance of normalcy,” Gonzaga said, stressing the need for a barangay hall and school in the community.
Gonzaga stressed they would restrict the area from habitation going forward.
A team from the MGB central office is at ground zero to assist in the ongoing search, rescue, and retrieval operations. Brebante said they will also conduct an assessment of possible relocation sites for the residents displaced.
“Recently, we have a talk with the governor and congressman, that they will strongly implement the “no build zone” policy kaya tumutulong kami ngayon sa paghahanap ng possible relocation sites para ma-umpisahan anong programa ang pwede ma offer ng partner agencies,” Brebante said.
Photo courtesy of Maco LGU Facebook page
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