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PIA Press Release
Thursday, January 12, 2012


Gov creates body to look into Pantukan landslide

by Jeanevive D. Abangan

COMPOSTELA VALLEY, Jan. 12 (PIA) -- Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo T. Uy yesterday announced the creation of an investigative body to look into the underlying reasons why the recent Pantukan landslide cost so many lives despite the implementation of an ordinance on “No Habitation” in small scale mining areas.

His initiative took off from statements of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo who said in interviews with the media that someone had to answer the incident for apparent “negligence.”

Uy wanted the body to act independently as to avoid bias.

The investigating body is chaired by the Compostela Valley Provincial Director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Among its members are the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 11, Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) 11, Diocese of Tagum clergy to be appointed by Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz, Department of Education (DepEd) Compostela Valley Division, Nabunturan Integrated Mining Cooperative, Provincial Board member Atty. Peter Ruwell Gonzaga and Boad Member Moran B. Takasan.

Uy assured the body will observe high level of objectivity in their investigation, and that it would not be finding faults on anyone.

“But the purpose is to know why despite the No Habitation policy marami pa ring pamilya doon (But the purpose is to know why despite the No Habitation policy, there are still a lot of families there),” he told the media.

Uy pushed for the creation of an ordinance prohibiting residences in high risk small scale mining areas after the landslide incident in Sitio Panganason, Brgy. Kingking of Pantukan, Compostela Valley in April last year.

Provincial Ordinance 09-2011, promulgating the “No Habitation Policy,” was approved by the Sanggunian Panlalawigan of Compostela Valley on June 22, 2011.

The ordinance also incorporated “the mining safety guidelines in geologically hazardous mining areas within the territorial jurisdiction of the province of Compostela Valley.”

In its exploratory notes, the ordinance noted the “adamant” disregard of small-scale miners to the orders of higher authorities, bringing into tragic landslide incidents their families for establishing residential houses in mine sites.

It also noted that small business structures in high risk mine sites “tend to add the carrying capacity of the sites.”

“Thus, there is a strong probability that imminent danger is really inevitable in terms of landslide, erosion, cave-ins and the like,” it stated.

Citing the No Habitation ordinance, Uy believed that the recent landslide in Diat Uno, Brgy. Napnapan in Pantukan could have been prevented had the ordinance been implemented.”

He told the media that the SP sent copies of the ordinance to all towns in the province and that a copy of which was received by the Sangguniang Bayan of Pantukan on August 8, 2011.

In a phone interview over the phone with Pantukan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (MDRRMC) action officer Dr. Arnulfo Lantaya said the municipal government initiated a series of dialogues with small scale miners after the Panganason incident and even enforced a “forced evacuation” in Diat areas “but people went back to the place.”

Meanwhile, Uy made it clear that investigating body will not be coming up with a recommendation as to who will be made to answer the recent landslide incident.

“It is up for the secretary to look at all the angles and for him to decide of any sanction, he said referring to Secretary Robredo of DILG.

The governor admitted that the provincial government somehow fell short in following up the implementation of the No Habitation ordinance at the ground level.

Citing this, he expected to know from the investigating body the shortcomings of the provincial government.

“We might also learn some lessons that we might be able to strengthen the No Habitation policy,” he said.

However, Uy bared the inclusion of reported involvement of some local government officials among the concerns that the investigating body will be looking into.

He admitted of having received a number of text messages informing him of such case, and that some barangay officials (in Napnapan) were reportedly receiving tips so undocumented mining operations in the area could go on.

“There are reports like that but we can’t confirm it,” he said. (PIA-11/jeanevive duron-abangan)

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