March 05, 2006

DENR: No ‘landslide risk areas’ in IN
But officials air word of caution

“There are no landslide risk areas in the province, but still, we have to anticipate things that may happen.” This was the statement of Juan Delos Reyes, provincial environment and natural resources officer (PENRO) when asked about the possibility of a massive landslide occurring in Ilocos Norte.

He explained, that in the case of Leyte, it is located within the fault line and any movement of the tectonic plate will therefore result in ground movements.

The unusual volume of precipitation, thin vegetation and the weak root system of forest trees were all contributory factors to the impending disaster, he said.

The local environment office there issued a warning and ordered the evacuation of these people, but they refused to leave, he noted.

Delos Reyes reported that based on a study done by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), only the municipality of Bangui lie along the fault line. He noted, however, that the probability of that same incident from happening is minimal because the area is still thickly forested.

“As a matter of fact it is considered to be a perfect ecosystem because it is here where you find all land & water forms,” he added.

Earlier, Sr. Supt. Juan Luna, provincial PNP chief, warned residents here that the province might suffer the same fate as that of Southern Leyte if the practice of illegal logging continues.

“In several instances, joint forces from the PNP and DENR were able to seize timbers being transported down our mountains,” he said.

Delos Reyes clarified however, that there are no illegal logging activities in the province but merely poaching of trees. He admitted that residents living near forest areas indiscriminately cut down trees, and when combined, the volume is quite alarming.

If they do not learn to replant trees, ultimately there will be no more left, then the fear of Supt. Luna can happen, he said.

He recognized that there are flood prone areas but the DENR have started rehabilitation in these localities.

Like in the case of Solsona, which has characteristically thin soil, we advised the people to plant indigenous trees like duhat, he said. The office will augment these with forest trees, Delos Reyes said.

We recommend heteroculture to ensure the survival of at least one variety in the event of pest attacks, he added.

He added further that there is no cause of alarm for flash floods happening in Bangui which is also bounded by the sea. The trees here are deeply rooted unlike in Ormoc, where the logging sites were planted with fibrous crops like sugar cane and coconut, he explained.

Delos Reyes also reminded the public to have a geo hazard assessment when planning to construct their houses or buildings in slopes or near mountain areas. Prior to construction, they must evaluate the property to prevent disasters. This way, we can avoid a repeat of the Cherry Hills subdivision tragedy, he said.

Aleli Aggasid-Batara

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