ITOGON, Benguet — A total of 102 shanties on “no-build zones” in Barangay Ucab have been torn down by operatives of Itogon town to avert further damage from natural calamities.
“The need to demolish is to prevent the people from going back and risking their lives, like what happened during the height of Typhoon Ompong,” read Administrative Order No. 23, which the town issued, following a massive landslide that claimed the lives of over 80 people in this mining village at the height of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) in mid-September.
Mayor Victorio Palangdan said Thursday the demolition of the shanties began on Oct. 26 and will continue until all shanties in danger zones have been removed.
Around 720 shanties in areas that are highly susceptible to landslides were ordered torn down by the town government.
“We do not have a target date of completion, but we are doing it slowly but surely,” the mayor told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.
The mayor said 25 of the demolished shanties were voluntarily torn down by the owners, upon his issuance of AO 23, creating the task force.
A series of demolition was done on Oct. 26 and 27 and Nov. 7, 9, and 10. The demolition operation was halted last Oct. 29, as the town prepared for another strong typhoon, “Rosita”.
“Based on the findings of the MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau), the Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CRDRRMC) has recommended for the declaration of several areas as ‘no build zones’ due to its high susceptibility to hazards, most especially to landslides, which are most likely to happen at the occurrence of earthquake and or heavy downpour,” the AO said.
The areas include parts of Dampinga, portions of Luneta, Simot-simot, Columbia, and Forty Raise in Barangay Loacan; First gate, Otek, and 070 in Barangay Ucab; Tipong in Barangay Ampucao, and Surong 2 in Barangay Gumatdang.
The order cited that on Oct.17, the mayor directed the residents in areas identified as unsafe and inhabitable and are within the “no build zone” to voluntarily dismantle their shanties and makeshift shacks or “kampo.”
Typhoon Ompong left a devastated Itogon, but the lessons learned were put to practice, when Typhoon Rosita came to batter northern Luzon again in October.
“Aside from there was no landslide, there was no flooding, the people immediately evacuated voluntarily when they heard that ‘Rosita’ was coming. May kinakatakutan na ang mga tao (The people are now afraid of something),” the Itogon mayor noted, citing no casualty was recorded during “Rosita.”
Palangdan said the Itogon people prayed for their safety during the Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) celebration on Oct. 20, before “Rosita” came. An indigenous mass was then facilitated by indigenous priest Fr. Benny Villapa.
The IP month celebration was closed on Thursday in Barangay Upper Loacan. The celebration was mainly a thanksgiving for “Kabunyan’s” (god’s) guidance and protection. (Dionisio Dennis, Jr/PNA-northboundasia.com