DENR asks execs: Make Mt. Arayat a ‘no build zone’

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ARAYAT -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) called on Governor Lilia Pineda and Arayat Mayor Emmanuel Alejandrino to impose a "No Build Zone" policy along the perimeter of the Mt. Arayat National Park protected area following the recent landslide incidents here.

The recommendation came after the assessment was made by Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) chief Engr. Rommel Santiago and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) chief geologist Engr. Noel Lacadin.

"No houses should be built within the protected area of the Arayat National Park to prevent the recurrence of damages and death due to landslides," Santiago said.


Lacadin clarified that the MGB is only engaged in data gathering to provide the right direction to attached agencies of the government tasked to formulate safety measures and other disaster plans. He also noted that EMB is not authorized "to declare a particular area as a danger zone or within the danger zone" because the same is under the authority of the concerned local government unit.

The two DENR officials said that Mt. Arayat National Park remained critical and landslides may occur anytime with heavy downpour. It was reiterated on Tuesday when Pineda inspected the palliative measures undertaken by the local officials led by Alejandrino aimed at diverting the water and boulders coming from the Mayagas Creek found on top of Mount Arayat.

This developed as officials fear that the fast approaching rainy season may trigger yet another mudslide at the Arayat National Park, which is only a few meters away from the original landslide site.

Lacadin said huge volume of sediments, boulders and mud are found on top of the mountain, and this could probably trigger another landslide during the rainy season.

The chief geologist said Mount Arayat used to be a volcano, that is why there are pyroclastic materials that may be washed out during heavy rains.

This situation could compromise the safety of residents living at the foot of the mountain, an area classified as "danger zone," he said.

With this, Lacadin asked local officials to discourage residents from establishing communities in the said area to prevent the occurrence of any untoward incident in the future.

On September 26, 2009, a landslide claimed the lives of 12 residents in Barangay San Juan Baño, Arayat town, which the village folks blamed on the alleged illegal mining activity at the upper level of the mountains.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 02, 2014.

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