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PIA Press Release
Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Robredo orders probe of local exec’s culpability in Compostela landslide

by Jerome Carlo R. Paunan

MANILA, Jan. 18 (PIA) -- For their alleged failure to implement government-imposed measures to stop illegal mining activities in the now landslide struck gold-rich village in Pantukan town, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo has ordered an investigation on the possible culpability and liability of concerned local government officials in Compostela Valley.

At least 25 persons were killed while more than 100 others remained missing when prohibited small mining pits and shanties collapsed in Panganason village in Pantukan town during a pre-dawn landslide in the mining site.

“I am going to the area today to conduct an investigation to determine the liability and culpability of the local officials in Compostela Valley, particularly the mayor of Pantukan town and the village chairman of Barangay Panganason,” Robredo said.

Robredo said the Panganason mining site had been declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a “geo-hazard” site as early as October last year.

In April 2010, at least 20 people died when parts of the mountain, a few kilometers away from the latest landslide site, collapsed burying houses above it.

“The Compostela Valley governor, the Pantukan town mayor and the barangay chairman of Panganason were all aware of the hazards in the area as declared by the DENR last October. Yes, they ordered a forced evacuation against the illegal miners in the high-risk mining site but they apparently were not able to stop them from coming back in the area,” Robredo explained.

In a text message to Robredo, Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy blamed the barangay and purok officials of Barangay Panganason for allowing the return of the miners in the high-risk mine sites.

Uy also vowed to initiate an investigation into the incident.

“I still have to verify the information provided me by Gov.Uy. But I will still ask the concerned provincial, town and barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils led by the concerned local chief executives to explain in writing why they should not be held liable for dereliction of duty,” Robredo said.

The local police have mobilized search teams, including local miners, to conduct search and rescue of possible survivors in the gold-rich hinterland village which reportedly is hard to reach because of its unfriendly terrain. (DILG/RJB/JCP-PIA NCR)

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