May 24, 2024

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera is targeting to get the mayors to use the vulnerability and risk assessment maps that the agency has provided local government units.

MGB-Cordillera Director Fay Apil during a March 25 press conference said they are doing an intensive campaign to inform LGUs and its communities about the purpose of the geohazard maps that have turned over to almost all the 78 municipalities in the region.

The vulnerability and risk assessment map shows areas in a certain locality that are vulnerable to landslides or flood in terms of infrastructure or population.

It serves as a reference for LGUs in their risk assessment and for it to be able to implement proactive measures, such as identifying areas that are unsafe for settlement and relocation of households that are situated in vulnerable areas.

The map when applicable also comes with recommended engineering interventions to upgrade stability of an in order to protect the structures built on it.

Being a region vulnerable to landslides due to its topography and has a history of tragedies due to landslides during typhoons, Apil said stakeholders should know what is the map for and how it should be used for disaster risk reduction and management.

“We will be doing an intensive information and education campaign kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng mga mapa na bininigay namin, because it seems those concerned take a look at it without knowing how it should guide them. We have to explain it to them things such flood or landslide susceptibility in the barangays of the different municipalities a tano ba ang dapat gagawin kapag high or low ang landslide susceptibility, among other information,” she said. 

Apil said they also include statistical data such that of women and children in highly susceptible communities, which LGUs and its respective disaster risk reduction management bodies can use in the planning of needed evacuation centers.

However, the challenge for LGUs in a region like the Cordillera which is mountainous is finding areas that are safe for relocation when MGB recommends that a settlement is no longer suitable to be inhabited.

Based on experience, some local chief executives do not attend information, education, and communication campaigns and some do not even take a look at the maps MGB had provided.

“It should be more officials should be giving attention to this because they are the ones who are supposed to take action, approve budget, and implement necessary interventions,” Apil said.

The agency has also taken note of the tragedy that befell Maco in Davao de Oro last month, where the town experienced landslides triggered by heavy rains and which registered a high death toll and forced thousands of residents from four of its barangays to relocate to safer grounds.

The MGB as early as 2008 had given the LGU the hazard map for the area, which should have guided the LGU in taking action. 

She also reminded about the Little Kibungan tragedy in 2009 in Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet where a landslide buried houses and claimed several lives. She said while the area had been applied with slope protection but still remain a no-build zone for still being prone to slide, structures continue to be built in the area.

“Knowledge and use of the vulnerability and risk assessment maps should be strengthened, and for LGUs to realize their responsibility, which should be to plan ahead when a typhoon has been forecast, instead of calling for evacuation when it is already upon us,” she said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana