Compostela Valley Landslide
The landslide at Barangay Masara, Municipality of Maco, in Compostela Valley (ComVal) was a tragic one. As of posting time, 20 people have been declared dead, homes buried in mud, and hundreds have been evacuated in different schools and shelters in other Barangay.
Those who lived in the area are mostly working for the mining company. It is their source of income. Either as miners or office workers. One of my staff lost her 2 cousins. Their house was almost hit by the landslide. Other officemates lost their homes. And I’m sure, some miners lost their homes and loved ones too.
The landslide area is 2 Km away from the office. And the office is several kilometers away from the actual mining site.. where blasting and digging takes place. It would be impossible that our mining operations caused this tragedy… anyone from the community would be able to attest to that.
The Company has noted some soil erosions or.. ok lets call it mini-landslides within the limits of the Company property but no one got hurt or injured. The Company always maintains a SAFETY FIRST policy.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) have already declared several areas within the Municipality of Maco as GEO HAZARD areas. That means, they are prone to Fire, Landslide, earthquake, or flooding. I’ve attended a Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council (MDCC) meeting recently and this was tackled. They already had plans on how to inform and convince those who live in these areas to evacuate. In fact, just last month, I, together with some MDCC members went to a remote Barangay outside of the realm of the company to inform folks living there to evacuate and relocate as the area is landslide prone. They were a bit hesitant.. but i think after seeing this tragedy in Masara, they’ll be convinced that they really need to relocate.
Last July, we were visited by representatives of different Government agencies such as DENR, MGB, DOLE, BIR. We are also constantly being monitored by Local, Municipal, and Provincial environment groups. Just last month – August, 2 representatives from MGB visited the company. We always make sure to comply with Government regulations and standards.
Illegal small scale mining is rampant in the area. I’ve seen how they work and i’ve been hearing stories of where they do this. Most of the locals are miners, and so they know what to do when they see an area that can be mined. They dig holes in the mountains without proper tools or safety gadgets. It’d dangerous but when they find ore, then that’s additional income for them. An ounce of gold sells for like $900. Imagine one small bearing from a bicycle.. that small stuff can give you $900.
It was August 6 2007, when I first came across a devastating landslide in Masara. Less than 10 people died there and the local Government had a hard time asking the remaining locals to evacuate the area for a possible re-occurrence. This was attributed to small scale mining.
With this recent tragic event… I’ve been reading and hearing from news reports that small scale mining is again their main culprit. Well, its a factor.. but for me who has been in the area for more than a year now, i say it’s really prone to landslides. The mountains are too steep. And water may build up anywhere. Another factor is illegal logging! Locals cut down the trees to use it either to build their homes, use it as firewood or sell it as lumber.
They’ve been warned over and over again but they still ignore these warnings. And i guess even the Barangay Captain who should be on top of this, had a hard time convincing the residents and himself to relocate. That’s why he, his house, and his family were all buried under the rampaging mud. May their souls rest in peace.
The company provides Miner’s busses to transport the employees from the mine site up to Mawab.. that’s about 1 hour away from the mine site. So i think residents who are working for the company will not have a hard time with transportation.
I hope that locals from other Barangays within Maco will take this example as an eye opener. You’ll never know when tragedy will struck. So relocate now when you still can.. and not when your house or family member gets buried due to a landslide.
As you can see (open your eyes) from the above pics, the texture of the soil at the landslide area is composed of Pyroclastic materials that were deposited during the eruption of Mt. Leonard (i don’t know when). This was the soil that loosened during the several days of heavy rains. At the left side of the pictures, you’ll see rock formations.. they call this the Bed Rock. People from the MGB that i was able to talk to said only an earthquake can make this area collapse. Meanwhile, the area on the right of the picture is very unstable… and can collapse / create another devastating Landslide any time.
If you still have doubts, i encourage you to Visit the area but i would like to caution you and remind you to take necesessary safety precautions.
Those written here are my personal views and comments. This does not in any way express the views and opinion of the Company that I work for.