Sorsogon town seeks geoscienctists in identifying safe relocation site

October 21, 2009 10:19 pm 

By Danny O. Calleja

MAGALLANES, Sorsogon, Oct. 22 – Local government officials here are seeking help from government geoscientists and hazard mapping experts in identifying a safer place in the locality for the resettlement of 189 families spared by a killer landslide that hit a hilly coastal village in the municipality last May.

Relocation of these families from Barangay Hobo has been recommended by the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council (MDCC) and approved by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) following a visit made by defense secretary and NDCC chairman Gilberto Teodoro at the village after the tragedy.

Records of the MDCC headed by town Mayor Abelardo Arambulo showed that 13 persons from nine families were killed when a huge portion of the hill towering over the village collapsed into its residential site at the height of typhoon Dante last May 3.

The entire barangay site, where the elementary school campus, barangay hall, day care center, multi-purpose pavement and chapel were located, was also buried under the rubbles, the MDCC report said.

The 189 surviving families composed of almost 1,000 persons for fear of more landslides during typhoons or rainy days have agreed to abandon their barangay and be relocated to safer grounds within the municipality, it said.

Arambulo said during the May visit here, Teodoro pledged to allocate P68 million from the calamity fund of the NDCC for the acquisition of the resettlement site, construction of core shelter units, livelihood assistance and other requirements for the relocatees to start with in their new community.

While the municipal government is awaiting the release of the fund, scouting for a resettlement site that would fit to the needs of the relocatees like safety and livelihood opportunities, already being made available are the basic necessities such as water and electricity.

Vice-Mayor Manuel Ragrario said the municipal legislative council, which he heads, is coming out with an urgent resolution officially seeking the help of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in identifying the relocation site.

MGB's earlier hazard mapping had identified several areas in the municipality that are considered high-risk to floods and landslides, but Ragrario said they wanted the MGB and Phivolcs experts to determine which of the potential relocation sites being considered by the local government is less exposed to disaster.

Most of the residential and farming areas at the lowland of the municipality, bounded by the Sorsogon Bay at the north, Ticao Pass at the northwest and high mountains at the remaining portions, are often times submerged by flood waters during heavy rains because of the overflowing of rivers emanating from the mountains.

Most parts of the 19-kilometer concrete road winding across a hilly and mountainous terrain that link the municipality with the national highway down to the rest of Sorsogon province are most of the times rendered impassable due to soil erosions during heavy rains.

At least 15 of the municipality’s 34 barangays are considered prone to floods and landslides. Ragrario said some residents in these areas are also being eyed for permanent resettlement to safer grounds with the help of the provincial and national governments.

Arambulo said, the resettlement option is an urgent measure but the local government is not capable of doing it alone because of financial constraint.

“We are only a fifth class municipality that deeply rely on our internal revenue allotment from the national government that is why we cannot afford the resettlement of our constituents from disaster risk areas all by our self,” he said.

Since their request for financial assistance for the relocation was already turned down by the provincial government, the mayor said “we are left with no other option but rely on the resources of the national government particularly the NDCC.”

Mabuti na lamang, may pangakong pondo si Sec. Teodoro para sa paglilipat nitong aming mga residenteng nanganganib sa sakuna sa mga lugar ng pagguho ng lupa (The fund promised by Sec. Teodoro is our saving grace for the relocation of our residents at landslide high-risk areas), he added. (PNA)

FFC/LQ/DOC/cbd

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