December 9, 2022

Concerned officials are studying possible charges to be filed against the developer atop Cogcoga, Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet due to its illegal earth-moving activities that caused mudflows and flashfloods along the stretch of Kms. 3 to 4 at the height of the monsoon rains due to Typhoon Fabian.
La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said the municipality is still waiting for the reports from the Environment and Management Bureau and Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera to come up with appropriate cases against the developer, Pines City Doctor’s Hospital, Inc.
Members of a joint inspection team from the municipality, EMB-Cordillera and Office of the Civil Defense-Cordillera found out on July 26 that excavations and constructions were already carried out in the area sans permits.  
Salda said PCDH was issued a cease and desist order in October last year but its operation continued despite having no environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the EMB and development and excavation permits from the municipality.
The town’s inspection team has discovered the natural drainage path starts at the Peripin Bato going towards several properties including the PCDH site down to the concrete canals in Kms. 3 and 4, which drains to the Balili River near the Mamaga footbridge.
A natural sinkhole, where rain water drains, is within the PCDH property.
The report stated the catch basin protecting the sinkhole overflowed during the intense rainfall resulting in erosions and scouring of the natural gulley.
Also, the Municipal Planning and Development Office reported it has investigated the illegal dumping  of large volumes of soil debris and waste materials in a nearby private property in 2019 but no one was apprehended.
The large volumes of illegally-dumped materials then overspilled to the drainage canal of PCDH during the heavy rains resulting in mudflow at the national highway.
The inspection team’s report also said the mudflow came from the ongoing road excavation and development of PCDH.
A number of soil erosions were also observed inside the PCDH property.
The team then recommended for the municipality to compel the PCDH to immediately install mitigating measures to prevent the further mudflow and flooding and to apply for development permit and other permits.
Also, the PCDH should construct a concrete drainage canal traversing its subdivision road leading towards the national highway. The developer must also cease using the sinkhole as a main drainage outlet of the subdivision, construct a perimeter fence around the catch basin of the sinkhole, and construct a metal screen at the end of the drainage canal near the sink hole to prevent solid wastes from entering the sinkhole.
The team also recommended for an intensified campaign to stop illegal excavation and construction activities in the private properties near the PCDH site, which also contributed to the mudflow.
Salda said the flooding, which started on the morning of July 23, was due to the mudflows and debris that clogged the drainage going towards the Balili River.
He said six houses were partially damaged due to the mudflows and flashflood along the path of the flood in Barangay Pico while five households were affected by muddy floodwater. – Ofelia C. Empian