Itogon Mayor appeals to mining company to help landslide victims

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — The mayor of Itogon, Benguet is asking for the cooperation of the owner of the abandoned mining site where at least 26 people died due to a landslide.

Six days after Typhoon Ompong triggered a deadly landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogon Mayor Victor Palangdan on Thursday appealed to Benguet Corporation to help provide a temporary relocation site for affected residents.

He also asked the company to look for a temporary burial site for those who perished.

"Wala na pong sisihan. Nakikiusap po ako sa Benguet Corporation na dapat boluntaryo na maghanap sila ng relocation site ng mga taong ito. They should also provide a temporary burial area (for unidentified bodies)," he said in a media briefing.

He said tents have been donated, but there are no areas to place them, and he needs the mining company's help. The mayor added there is a representative from the company at ground zero, but no one is coordinating with the local government.

"Kung may nakikinig na taga-Benguet Corp, pumunta na kayo dito. We should have a meeting for the solution to this problem... If Benguet Corporation will not provide any space, I don't know what will happen," he said.

He said schools used as evacuation sites should be vacated by Monday upon the resumption of classes. Of the 418 affected residents, only 18 were willing to go back to Ifugao. He said majority of the residents of Sitio 070 are pleading to go back to their homes.

"Ang mga tao kanina nagmamakaawa na sana ay payagan silang bumalik," he said.

Twenty-six bodies have been recovered and rescuers are looking for 47 more. Four backhoes will be used to fasttrack the rescue and retrieval operations. He said rescuers are still hopeful they can find survivors in the rubble.

"Iyon ang ipinapanalangin natin. Kasi may buhay pa at iyun ang nagpapalakas sa mga rescuers na alam nila, feelings nila, may buhay pa silang maaabutan," he said.

The mayor added those affected by the landslide will receive livelihood assistance once the town goes back to normalcy. He said the funds will come from the cash donations they have received.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Monday ordered a stop to all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region following the dozens of landslides recorded in the region due to Ompong.