Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya—Evacuation of illegal dwellers within the hazard-prone areas in barangay Runruno in Quezon town needs to be done to prevent another landslide tragedy in the community, officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here said.
Edgar Martin, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) said they have intensified their composite checkpoint in the area to prevent dwellers from entering the communities that have long been considered as hazard-prone.
He said they were able to confiscate chainsaws and recovered cut lumbers in the area used by illegal dwellers in putting-up their houses or shanties.
“The landslide that happened recently in barangay Runruno is solely a result of natural phenomenon where loosened, silky and sandy soil in an elevated position tends to erode and collapse. The continuous rains aggravated the hazard condition of the area,” he said.
Martin, in a post-incident visit and meeting with municipal and barangay officials including executives of FCF Minerals Corporation, which operates the gold-molybdenum project in Runruno, said the site of the recent landslide that buried and killed 10 people and injured two others was not yet under the operation and excavation by the mining firm.
He said they were informed that 245 individuals and their families have been previously compensated by the mining company in the past with more than P57.8 million to vacate their habitats.
“But despite these settlements, new and previous illegal dwellers continue to enter the geo-hazard area, building their shanties on a 45-dgree gradient slope. In fact, most of the landslide fatalities came from Ifugao and Quirino provinces,” Martin said.
Martin also revealed that a meeting with the municipal and barangay officials will be conducted next week as a preliminary step in the settlement of the evacuation process among illegal dwellers and enforcement of no-housing zone policy and implementation within the geohazard areas.
He said a multi-sectoral dialogue and consultation will also be offered immediately with the affected dwellers, concerned government agencies and the mining company.
“One of the expected outcomes of the larger meeting will be the identification of proposed evacuation centers and other concerns of the illegal dwellers for a fair settlement. We hope to have a win-win solution to this problem,” Martin said.
He added that barangay officials have been advising the illegal dwellers to vacate the area due to its geohazard condition, but they refused.
The geohazard study, recommendation, and advisory to vacate was earlier made by the DENR Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB).