Upland residents warned against landslides

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 Jan) – A government geologist on Thursday warned residents living in upland areas of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao to brace for the possible occurrence of landslides in the wake of the sporadic heavy rains in the area.

Engr. Jaime Flores, chief geologist of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Region 12, said their monitoring showed that the continuing rains have already loosened the soil covering of mountains straddling some settlements in the region and may possibly collapse if the current weather pattern would continue.

He said the mountainous areas and ground surface in lowland areas are already nearing their saturation point due to the continuous rains since late December.

“Residents, especially those in upland areas, should be extra vigilant and regularly monitor possible cracks or loosened portions on their grounds and of the nearby mountains as they may trigger landslides,” Flores said in a radio interview.

He urged local government units (LGUs), especially the barangay councils, in the region to regularly monitor the ground conditions in their respective areas and establish precautionary measures against possible disasters.

Flores advised LGUs to start relocating residents who are still staying in critical areas, especially those with recorded cases of landslides and related disasters.

He said all provincial, municipal and city disaster management councils in the region should make sure that all critical landslide and flood-prone areas are identified and residents are properly warned and prepared about the dangers they are facing.

“We cannot really stop these natural disasters from happening but we can prevent the loss of lives by making sure that our local residents are well aware and equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills on how to respond to these situations,” he said.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Based on the MGB-12’s geohazard mapping in the region, it identified at least 29 areas as critical due to recorded incidents of major landslides and flashfloods in the past several years.

The list includes portions of this city and in the municipalities of Banga, Lake Sebu, T’boli, Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan towns in South Cotabato; Glan, Malapatan, Malungon, Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum towns in Sarangani; Pigcawayan in North Cotabato; and Isulan and Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat.

The agency had also mapped previous landslides and flashfloods in portions of Mt. Matutum and Mt. Melebingoy (formerly Mt. Parker) in South Cotabato and the Daguma Mountain Range in Sultan Kudarat.

MGB-12 earlier completed the region’s geohazard mapping and assessment, which is mainly aimed at determining the vulnerability of the area to landslides, floods, and other ground susceptibilities. The agency also identified viable relocation sites for residents settled in identified critical areas or danger zones. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)