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Compostela Valley Landslide

September 10, 2008

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.

UPDATED:

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.

NOTE:

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.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. masara_line_jr permalink
    September 11, 2008 9:57 am

    Maybe your right! but i think there is a hidden agenda on why this villagers were being relocated; probably the company want to mine that area also because that area has a high grade vein on it, also for security purpose because one of the problem of the company is always losing something like copper wires and etc. and many more hidden reasons of which the company and the LGU only knows.

    In addition, if you analyze the area, yes there is a possible landslide again but only on that area not on the upper side of the barangay going to the Company compound starting at the gymnasium, because the left side area if you were facing to the landslide area that portion is a bed of rocks. Now is it possible that the bed of rocks will cause a landslide? I think NO.

    Now, the conclusion of the MGB that the whole Masara Barangay is in danger they were wrong. They just want all the villagers to relocate because it’s been a long time plan that the company wanted back the security system like the old Apex Mine were being impose that only the employee can go inside the company premises and if there is a visitor they should have a proper request. Just like old times!!!

    Note: This is just my personal views and comments. This does not in any way express the views and opinion of the villagers.

  2. migs permalink*
    September 16, 2008 1:32 pm

    Uy.. someone who knows the area and is a witness or maybe an employee from the “old times”

    I don’t think there’s someone in his proper state of mind would want a landslide just to make people flee. Affected din ang kumpanya and mga employees.

    Sayo na rin nanggaling.. baka may magandang vein na pwedeng minahin dun sa landslide area… it would be impossible for the mining company to do excavations and blasting sa area kasi nga maraming bahay.. so malamang.. may small scale mining.

    BUt i’m not sure ha.. malamang lang…

  3. September 19, 2008 6:35 pm

    Davao is a wonderful place to live in.

  4. rougeamour permalink
    September 25, 2008 9:16 pm

    there should be an investigation re the mining excavations done by CREW GOLD, the British-based large-scale mining company operating in the area.

    it is not right to blame this on small scale miners.

    large-scale mining is greatly hazardous and destructive, incomparable to small scale mining. and besides, large scale miining benefits only foreign corps, and a very few locals.

    what we earn – if we do, is not enuf to pay for the envi and health damages that large scale mining causes!

  5. rougeamour permalink
    September 25, 2008 9:18 pm

    we should know better at how foreign mining companies operate. they use sophisticated technology, invest millions and billions to get trillions of our minerals!

  6. akasnam permalink
    September 26, 2008 10:36 am

    I have some reservations about mining activities in general (be they small-, medium- or large-scale). But for the sake of fairness, the landslide in Masara was not at all caused by mining activities. The soil, pounded by incessant rain, finally gave in. The factors, among others, are kaingin, deforestation, and the fire that consumed the forest of Masara in the 80s. It should be noted that the composition of the soil in that area, as well as in neighboring areas, is what the local folks call “apga” (which is kinda spongy and porous). It can just let go in the form of “buhawi” (flashflood or avalanche).
    Mining in Masara is tunneling, which is less invasive and destructive than open-cutting, as in the case of the now-defunct North Davao Mining Corporation.
    Masara is like a harlot that has been to different screwers (e.g. SaMiCo, Apex Mining Corp, Phil-Metal, then presently Crew-Mining).
    If we were to call these mining companies evil, I can vouch that the present one would be the lesser or least evil. Crew Mining makes use of the local manpower. It employs residents in the area and gives preferential treatment to indigenous people (“lumad”) — there may be reason for this, but that’s beside the point. It relocates residents that are within the mining site to safer places. It has some community outreach programs. It maintains public road even up to the highway (that is, Mawab)… Things that were never explored before when Masara was under Filipino corporations. tsk, tsk tsk.
    People harp when they don’t share a piece of the pie!

  7. Transcendence permalink
    September 26, 2008 3:27 pm

    Hello!

    during the sembreak, a team of psych faculty will be facilitating psychosocial interventions in the community.

  8. akasnam permalink
    September 29, 2008 10:33 am

    “psychosocial interventions” might sound good, but it might be too late a hero. Usually, debriefings, bereavement counseling, and other interventions should be done immediately, coz in cases like this, time is of essence – the quicker the better.
    I hope the faculty could stay and live with the community for a while to come up with engaged and empathetic interventions. As opposed to one-day exposure which is usually bereft of depths and empathy for there is no rapport and confidence established.
    Kudos to the workers. I hope you guys have a solution or channels if the needs expressed by the community is nothing but pecuniary in nature.

  9. migs permalink*
    September 29, 2008 10:40 am

    Its better late to act than comment lang ng comment…

    ehem

  10. akasnam permalink
    September 29, 2008 8:52 pm

    Yup, migs, you are certainly right: enough of words. what they need is concrete action. An action that is borne out of genuine concern for the victims – not just for “pogi points” or for publicity or for reportorial requirements to an agency or for study validation. Mind you, there are a lot of these.

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