Boljoon: More families evacuate; landslides partially cleared

With anxiety written all over their faces, landslide victims in Boljoon town, southern Cebu, watch as government workers clear mounds of debris that came crashing down from a mountain, blocking their only access to the market.

THE number of affected families in the series of landslides to hit Boljoon, southern Cebu, has risen to 45, says Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) after seven more families were forced to leave their homes, Sunday.

Rhafael Luche, head of PDRRMO’s emergency response management unit expects the number to rise even more in the coming days as cracks and fissures along mountain villages are expected to grow daily due to the constant movement of the land beneath it.

“Ang affected families kay magka increase pud kay ang mga debris kay magkaduol man sa mga residents (The number of affected families will increase because the debris keep moving towards the residents),” said Luche.

A team from the provincial engineering brigade was sent to Barangay Lower Becerril, Tuesday, to assist residents in the area.

“There are plumbers, electricians that they can utilize whenever needed. They can use these personnel for minor repairs,” Luche said.

Access to Sitio Calfranco which was isolated by the landslides in the village of Lower Becerril was also opened beginning 2 p.m. Tuesday after Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama asked the owners of private lots to allow them to create an access road for motorcycles.

“Amo ng giablihan karon. Motor ra ang makaagi kay molihok man gihapon ang yuta (We opened it today. Only motorcycles could pass since the earth continues to move),” said Derama.

According to the mayor, three lot owners agreed to give access through their properties to allow villagers to attend Mass in Barangay Poblacion for the town’s upcoming fiesta celebration on Friday, November 10.

“Nangita mi og area nga stable nga adto mi mag abli og dalan (We looked for a stable area where we could open a road),” he said.

Derama urged residents not to panic as the town’s patron, Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria, will guide and protect them.

“Milagroso g’yud ni among Birhen diri kay zero casualties mi diri (Our patron is really miraculous as we have zero casualties here),” said the mayor.

“Mag-ampo lang ta (Let us just pray),” he added.

The municipal government, with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has also managed to clear around 35 meters of road in the landslide area.

Dump trucks sent by the neighboring towns of Oslob and Dalaguete also helped carry mounds of debris to clear the roads.

“We hope to maintain the zero casualty. Ang ato lang safe ang day-to-day operations sa mga operators ug ang safety pud sa mga residents (We hope the day-to-day operations will remain safe for operators and the residents) who were passing through,” the mayor added.

Meanwhile, PDRRMO chief Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said in a text message that mining company, Carmen Copper Corporation based in DAS, Toledo City, was willing to support shelter projects in relocation sites for affected families of Boljoon.

He also said the province sent two rolls of Polyethylene (PE) pipes, 19 drums of diesel fuel and a drum of gasoline for the heavy equipment used in the ongoing clearing operations.

Boljoon is a fifth class municipality located 105 kilometers southeast of Cebu City. It has eleven villages with a total population of 16,000.

Clusters of mountain villagers were cut off from the town proper by the series of landslides that first struck Lower Becerril last October 29.

Six barangays namely, Lower Becerril, Upper Becerril, Lunop, Nangka, San Antonio and Poblacion were placed under a state of calamity by the municipal government as they became inaccessible due to the landslides that have created two artificial dams at a river along Upper Becerril.

The landslides also caused large land fissures that isolated the area and other adjoining villages making it difficult to even transport supplies and relief foods to the affected mountain barangays.

The landslides were caused by the softening of the soil resulting from incessant rain experienced in Cebu since last week.

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