‘Agaton’ landslide victims in Butuan complain of gov’t neglect

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BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews / 13 Feb) – Some 100 families affected by a landslide at the height of Typhoon Agaton that damaged houses and a church and rendered a barangay road impassable complained that the local government has failed to provide help and support since the incident happened almost a month ago.

Residents of Sitio Matin-aw said Wednesday that even motorcycles could not pass, thus making it hard for people to bring their farm products to the market. “Even children going to school have to climb the muddy landslide that is very unstable, especially when it rains,” said Deliciosa Arcede, purok 6 president.

Arcede revealed that several more landslides on January 19 destroyed houses and infrastructure.

She said four houses and a small church of the Philippine Independent Church were totally destroyed by landslides caused by the non-stop rains.

Arcede recalled that the first house was destroyed around 4 p.m., then three more houses and the church collapsed just before midnight when a large landslide hit the area.

Julia Osores, 47, narrated how her family, with five children, barely managed to escape when the landslide hit her house.

“We were trying to sleep when my husband heard a loud noise and the sound of rocks and trees rushing down from the hillside. We quickly grabbed our children and ran to the other side of the road and prayed that the large rocks won’t hit any of us, Osores recalled.

The Osores house was completely covered with muddy soil.

She said that none from the local government unit has come to help them get the muddy soil off the road.

“Most parts of our house are still covered in mud and soil. We managed to salvage some wood planks from our old house and so we can make a makeshift home,” Osores narrated.

Barangay officials, she said, have requested help from the LGU but received a reply that other areas are being prioritized and that there was no available equipment.

“Farmers bringing their products have to climb the muddy hill created by the landslide. Children going to school do the same. It has been really hard for most of the residents, and up to this time we’re still wondering how long will it take for help to arrive,” said Felimino Inchoco, who drives residents around the area with his motorcycle.

Engr. Lorden Vismanos, officer-in-charge of the city engineering, said over a local TV interview that his office has done everything to help all the affected areas in the city.

He said several parts of Butuan were tremendously hit by Agaton, stretching the city government’s limited resources. “We haven’t forgotten about this area,” Vismanos said referring to Sitio Matin-ao, “but we are just trying to prioritize our efforts.”

Last Wednesday, the city engineer’s office sent a backhoe and dump trucks into the area but wasn’t able to do anything since the arm of the backhoe, which was previously damaged, was again out of service.

According to the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), they received reports only of soil disturbance and erosion, but not as big a landslide as the one they saw in Sitio Matin-aw last Wednesday.

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