Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya—More than 200 illegal settlers in the geo-hazard areas in barangay Runruno here vowed to leave their abodes following government efforts calling for their evacuation due to threat of landslides.
Edgar Martin, DENR Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer(PENRO) said they have assisted several illegal settlers in Runruno yesterday as they voluntarily dismantled their shanties and houses after being compensated by the FCF Minerals Corporation which covers the areas of the small scale miners with its Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the national government.
“We expect others to follow after being compensated fairly by the mining firm so their lives will not be put in constant danger from the impending landslides,” he said.
Martin said the illegal settlers who also conduct small scale mining activities in the geo-hazard zones occupied the area, stripping the mountainsides of trees and other vegetation to pave the way for their slash and burn system of agriculture.
Most of the evacuated illegal settlers returned back to their houses at the barangay Poblacion while others were advised to temporarily stay in their relatives in barangay Runruno.
During the onslaught of typhoon ‘Ulysses’, at least 10 illegal settlers who are mostly from the provinces of Quirino and Ifugao died after being buried by the landslide. Two others were also injured during the incident.
A composite team of government agencies from the local and national government met with the illegal settlers at the barangay hall of Runruno on Friday.
The illegal settlers also asked the government officials for a viable resettlement area and to start their alternative livelihood.
Mayor Dolores Binwag said the local government unit has allocated funds for the acquisition of a viable resettlement area which will be geologically assessed by the DENR-Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB).
“Let us all work together to relocate you to safer grounds. We will also be charged if we will not do this for your safety and security,” she said.
Meanwhile, Provincial Legal Officer Voltaire Garcia said the provincial government through its Assessor’s Office is in the process of preparing the checklist for the assessed values of the illegal settlers’ assets and properties within the geo-hazard areas in barangay Runruno.
He said this will serve as a basis in the compensatory settlements for those who were not yet paid by the FCF Minerals Corporation which already compensated 245 villagers and families in their mining ‘footprints’.
Garcia said the assessment valuation of the PLGU will also be used for the compensatory payments for the illegal settlers outside the mining firm’s FTAA coverage by concerned agencies.
Earlier, James Carmichael, FCF Minerals Corporation Country Manager said they are willing to compensate the illegal settlers within their mining ‘footprint’ with just and fair payments.