December 10, 2022

Development activities at Cogcoga, Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet, which caused debris and soil to block sections of Halsema Highway from Kms. 3 to 4, continue despite the cease and desist order issued to the developer.

Mayor Romeo Salda underscored this last week after the Municipal Engineering Office inspected the development site owned by Pines City Doctor’s Hospital, Inc. when mudflow caused flooding along the highway during Typhoon Maring.

“The Office of Civil Defense, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and MEO earlier recommended for the developer to institute mitigating measures but now they found out there is a continued development activities in the area,” Salda said.

He said another round of inspection will be conducted at the site to assess the mitigating measures done by the developer as agreed during the earlier inspection last August.  

He said a joint inspection with the Environmental Management Bureau, OCD, and the Department of Public Works and Highways will be set to compare their assessment from the previous typhoon to the present.

To recall, heavy rains last July caused a large volume of muddy water and rocks from the vicinity of the mountainous part of Upper Cogcoga to flow to the Halsema Highway from Km. 3 to Km. 4.

The flashflood and debris rendered the highway impassable, which left thousands of commuters and motorists stranded.

Municipal employees, policemen, DPWH personnel, and volunteers helped clear the highway of debris for almost two weeks due to the continuous monsoon rains.

This was also the same case after the onslaught of Typhoon Maring.

Last August, the municipal government filed for the issuance of a temporary environmental protection order against PCDH before the Benguet Regional Trial Court Branch 10 for the whole Sitio Cogcoga, Pico and the Balili River.

Salda said the affected residents along the highway, whose houses were flooded during the past typhoons, are also planning to file cases against PCDH. – Ofelia C. Empian