Landslides

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A landslide is the mass movement of rocks, soil, and debris down a slope due to gravity. It occurs when the driving force is greater than the resisting force. It is a natural process that occurs in steep slopes. The movement may range from very slow to rapid. It can affect areas both near and far from the source.

Usually, a landslide is triggered by intense rainfall, the weathering of rocks, ground vibrations created during earthquakes, man- made mining activities, and volcanic activity.

Records show that landslides result in serious negative impacts to the community, society, and the environment. In many areas, landslides have damaged infrastructures, blocked road systems, destroyed bridges, cut off water, power supply, and communications systems; crushed and washed-out houses, and have claimed lives.

This geo-hazard has also brought about major landscape changes that have influenced the biophysical characteristics of the land, thus, affecting its ecosystem services.

A barangay in Southern Leyte had become “no man’s land” after the massive landslide in 2003 due to the heavy accumulation of earth materials, impairing most landscape functions, particularly, the production and supply of potable water in the area.

Are Negros Oriental communities prone  to landslides? What are their potential costs in lives and properties? What lessons can be learned from previous landslides? Is the local government implementing measures to safeguard the landslide prone communities?

The climate change  phenomenon has brought   about a series of storms, with scientists warning they are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer , with the accompanying torrential rains.

Like what happened to a mining community in Maco, Davao de Oro last week, that saw houses that were built on a No-Build Zone. Suddenly, heavy rain loosened the soil, causing the community to fall, and covering everything with boulders and  muddy soil.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has said that there could be many factors why this happened: the very high slope gradient in the affected areas and unstable grounds due to road development, farming, open pit mining, indiscriminate quarrying, widespread deforestation, and poor drainage systems.

In the past, heavy rainfall would trigger landslides in the mountainous areas, and flooding in the lowlands, forcing thousands to be evacuated to safer areas or to emergency shelters.

Lives have been lost due to landslide disasters, such as: the 1999 Cherry Hills Subdivision in Antipolo City, the 2003 debris flow in Panaon Island in Southern Leyte, the 2006 Guinsaugon Village in St.Bernard in Southern Leyte, the 2006 lahar flow from Mayon Volcano in Albay, the 2009 Cordillera landslides, the 2012 landslide in Pantukan in Compostela Valley in Davao, the 2012 debris flow in New Bataan (Compostela Valley), the 2014 Catbalogan City landslide in Samar, 2017 landslides in Naval, Caibthe iran, Biliran, and Almeria in Biliran Province, the 2018 landslide in Itogon, Benguet, and the 2018 landslide in Naga, Cebu.

Have our government officials  forgotten these historical data of how landslides have occurred, and the resulting damage to life and property? Is the government remiss in its duty to keep the constituents safe by making them aware of the hazards brought about by torrential rains and storms?

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Author’s email: whelmayap@yahoo.com

 

 

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