Part of Gaas a ‘no-habitation zone’

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas Region has declared a portion of Barangay Gaas in the western town of Balamban, Cebu as a “no-habitation zone” following a recent landslide.

Officials of Barangay Gaas are considering the relocation of affected residents to safer areas, while frequent rains since last week heighten the risk of landslides.

In Gaas alone, an estimated P1 million worth of livestock and crops have been lost because of the extreme cold, an official revealed.


The DENR-Central Visayas’ Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau has declared a more than 10-hectare area in Sitio Proper, Barangay Gaas as a “no-habitation zone.”

Loreto Alburo, MGB regional director, revealed that the area was considered highly susceptible to landslides during a geo-hazard mapping and assessment conducted in March 2011.

Alburo recalled the bureau had issued advisories about the risks to the Balamban Municipal Government last March 24, 2011 and July 31, 2012.

Al Emil Berador, MGB chief geologist, recommended the immediate evacuation of residents in the affected area after he found that the landslide remains active and has caused “vertical displacement” in some parts of the village.

Berador said the landslide was triggered by 15 days of intense and prolonged rain, as well as geological factors such as the type of soil.

“This kind of material (volcanic rock) easily absorbs water and saturates, causing a slide,” Berador said.

Berador also recommended the transfer of Gaas’ elementary and high school buildings, because these stand on soft ground that might give way.

The Gaas National High School is currently a relocation center for about 260 affected residents.

Dr. Isabelo Montejo, DENR regional executive director, said that affected barangays need to develop an early warning system for residents when landslides and other disasters occur.

Montejo said such systems needed to be institutionalized at the barangay or sitio levels.


In response to MGB-Central Visayas’ recommendations, Barangay Gaas chief William Genel said local officials are considering options in relocating affected residents to safer areas.

He revealed they are considering relocating their villagers to a private property within the barangay, but he plans to check with Balamban Mayor Ace Stefan Binghay on the proposal.

Genel also revealed that the number of livestock that died because of the cold spell has increased.

From seven cows that died since last Monday, the number has now risen to 10. Another carabao and a horse were also found dead, Genel said.

Genel estimated that damage to livestock in their barangay has reached P500,000. A similar amount was estimated to have been lost due to damage to corn and vegetable fields.

As of yesterday, there were 259 individuals or 60 families affected by the landslide in Barangay Gaas.

Balamban Municipal Agriculturist Felogyn “Boy” Sundo said the damage to crops and livestock has reached to P2.1 million, covering Barangays Gaas and Sunog.


Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III promised to extend assistance to the affected farmers.

“I’ll have that checked by Dr. (Mary Rose) Vincoy (the provincial veterinarian).

Definitely, we will extend help,” said Davide, who was in Carcar City yesterday. He joined the first leg of the Suroy-Suroy sa Sugbu, the first during his term.

He said he will also ask the provincial veterinarian to determine what caused the livestock’s deaths.

Capitol Agriculture Chief Roldan Sarajena yesterday said he still has to receive a damage report from the Balamban Municipal Agriculture Office.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Neil Angelo Sanchez said that those who were housed in the national high school will be transferred to the barangay’s sports complex.

Classes were suspended since last Friday and as of yesterday, they could not yet determine when these will resume, Sanchez said.

The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) will distribute food packs, used clothing and tents to the affected families today.

PSWDO head Evelyn Senajon said the Capitol will give five sacks of used clothing, 10 boxes of bottled water, blankets, mats and food, which are good for three days.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 23, 2014.

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