GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 October) — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has recommended the permanent relocation of residents from an upland community in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato due to the possible occurrence of major landslides.
Constancio Paye Jr., MGB Region 12 director, said the results of their field assessment showed that Sitio Tokobokong in Barangay Lamlahak, Lake Sebu is unsafe for dwelling and should be declared off limits
to residents due to the presence of multiple ground cracks.
“The area is within a high-risk zone and major landslides may occur anytime because of the ground cracks,” he said.
The provincial government of South Cotabato ordered the evacuation last Oct. 12 of 155 families from Sitios Bentung, Lemuti and Tokobokong in Lamlahak following the occurrence of “multiple landslides” in the area.
Citing results of a site evaluation conducted by MGB personnel, Paye said Sitio Tokobokong was found highly vulnerable to landslides because of the cracks and the over saturation of the ground soil.
He said the area’s top soil has turned loose as a result of the heavy rains in the past several weeks.
But Paye stressed that the emergence of the ground cracks was due to natural causes, among them the deterioration of the ground’s water-holding capacity.
In response to the MGB’s assessment, Gov. Arthur Pingoy said he has instructed the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) to come up with a relocation plan for the affected residents.
He also ordered the PDRRMO to immediately search for permanent relocation sites for the 66 families of Sitio Tokobokong that would be affected by the area’s closure.
As of Thursday, around 90 families that earlier evacuated from the affected areas are currently taking temporary shelter at the barangay center of Lamlahak.
John Lorca, PDRRMO coordinator, said the municipal government of Lake Sebu is currently handling the relief operations in the area.
He said the provincial government has delivered additional food and other relief goods to augment the needs of the evacuees.
Lorca said they have coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Region 12 for the provision of more relief supplies for the affected residents. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)