DENR chief renews call to LGUs on geohazards

ENVIRONMENT and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today renewed his call on local executives of La Niña-affected areas to take heed of the warnings on geological hazards issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

“With incessant rains being experienced in the Visayas and Mindanao in the past weeks, we expect the soil to have been fully saturated.  With forecast from the weather bureau of more rains coming in until February, it is a matter of time that more landslides and flashfloods would be expected in disaster-prone areas such as in Southern Leyte,” Paje said.

Paje said that the MGB, which is under the DENR, has already completed the geohazard mapping and assessment of the whole country last year.  It has likewise finished distributing geohazard maps to local government units.

However, following the national elections last year, Paje directed the MGB to again distribute geohazards maps to LGUs to enable them, particularly the new ones, to integrate mitigating measures, including possible relocation or evacuation sites, into their local disaster management plans.

According to him, the recent loss of lives in Brgy. Bolod bolod in St. Bernard town could have been avoided as the residents, through their local leaders, have been sufficiently forewarned that the area was classified as highly susceptible to landslides, especially during heavy rains, Paje said.

St. Bernard was one of the first places to undergo MGB’s geohazard mapping and assessment in 2006.  The geohazard assessment showed that Brgy. Bolod bolod, being situated along the river valley of the Himbungao River and flanked along the eastern portion by the slopes of the valley edge, “the area to be generally prone to landslides and was classified to be moderately to highly susceptible to this type of hazard.”

The assessment report also states:  “As can be gleaned in the geohazard map prepared for the area, the eastern section of Brgy. Bolod bolod is clearly within the landslide susceptible area with the remaining portion of the barangay within the landslide debris accumulation zone. This portion, which immediately straddles the Himbungao River, is also highly susceptible to floods and flashfloods.”

Around 1,618 municipalities nationwide were covered in the MGB’s geohazard mapping program. D’Jay Lazaro

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