MGB 7: Temple of Leah, school in ‘danger zone’

AT LEAST two tourist destinations, a public school and some households within the center and within the ridges bounding the landslide area in Sitio Garahe, Barangay Busay in Cebu City are situated in a “danger zone.”

This was what the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Central Visayas (DENR 7) said in its geohazard investigation report provided to the Cebu City Government on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.

In its report, the DENR 7’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) recommended that residents living close to the landslide area be relocated permanently to avert potential casualty and further property loss, saying the area is “highly susceptible to landslides.”

Aside from households situated there, at least three known establishments in the area are located within the 2.5-hectare radius of the landslide area.

These are the Busay National High School, the Cebu Mountainview Nature Park and the Temple of Leah.

The MGB added that based on their assessment, the damaged houses in Sitio Garahe were also found to sit along an abandoned creek believed to be a high-order stream of the Butuanon River.

The investigation also stated that a spring was found 50 meters west of the landslide epicenter.

“Although a drainage canal is installed along the highway, it is relatively silted and narrow, causing it to overflow easily during extreme weather conditions. Several segments of the drainage canal, as well as the culverts in the area, are also obstructed by developments such as concrete structures, leaving the surface runoff uncontained. Based on historical accounts, surface runoff and uncontained floodwater dispersed along the roadway in times of heavy rainfall are draining towards the direction of the landslide area,” the MGB report stated.

The MGB added that the landslide could have been aggravated by the presence of numerous springs and seepage in the area due to the intensive fracturing of the bedrock.

In the afternoon of Oct. 29, six structures, particularly houses, in Sitio Garahe were destroyed when a landslide struck the area due to heavy rains brought by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

The landslide in Sitio Garahe swept four homes, including the house of Barangay Captain Ma. Christia Famador.

Following the incident, the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Mitigation and Management Council declared the 2.5-hectare radius of the landslide site in Sitio Garahe, Barangay Busay as well as five hectares in Sitio Gilagila in Barangay Bonbon as danger zones.

Fourteen families in Busay and 40 families in Bonbon were ordered to evacuate immediately and transfer to the barangays’ public schools or sports complexes.

Following the incident, Mayor Michael Rama signed Executive Order (EO) 13, or Oplan Likay sa Landslide, on Nov. 3.

Under the EO, structures illegally built in areas determined by the Special Task Force headed by lawyer Collin Rosell to be highly susceptible to landslides must be vacated.

It also orders owners of properties in landslide-prone areas to come up with preventive measures like building slope protection and planting trees, among others. /