La Union coastal village sinking


CABA, La Union  – Some twenty houses and several resorts in the coastal barangay of Santiago Norte here were already destroyed and the village is slowly sinking since 2013 due to the sudden rise of seawater probably brought by climate change.

Residents disclosed to media practitioners that they were puzzled with the unexpected rise in seawater that causes the destruction and they are now asking immediate assistance from the government to prevent further damaged of properties and continues threat to their lives and sources of livelihood in the area.

Rudy Gatchalian, a barangay councilor, was retrieving materials from a destroyed nipa hut that was swept by waves from the sea when the media practitioners visiting the place asked him about the incident.

Gatchalian said he suspects that the destruction was caused by the ‘shore protection project’ that was built along the shoreline of the neighboring barangay of San Carlos.

“Magmula ng ginawa yung shore protection, pumunta na dito yung tubig dagat,” he said.

Gatchalian and other barangay officials headed by Chairman Antonio Fonbuena already passed a resolution asking for assistance from the municipal and provincial government for their immediate relocation to higher grounds.

On the other hand, Mayor Clyde Crispino and the municipal council passed a separate resolution requesting for additional funds from Malacañang for the construction of seawall to prevent the entry of seawater in the area.

Gatchalian said that about 35-meters of the shoreline was already wipe-out because the water level had gone up over 10-meters.

Anthony Maglaya, municipal engineer, said that he was given instruction by Mayor Crispino to make a program of work for the seawall which he will be designed by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Maglaya said that they also referred the matter to the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit for the possibility of using their calamity fund to help those affected residents.

Maglaya clarified that the shore protection project in San Carlos village was not the cause for the rise of seawater in Santiago Norte but the problem might be the effect of climate change which causes high level of water.

Frank Gonzales, a resort owner, said around fifty-percent was lost in the income of the tourism industry in Caba because of the problem.

“The sudden rise of seawater and the erosion has affected beachgoers because it destroyed the swimming area along the coastal area,” Gonzales said.

He said that resorts owners had taken remedial measures by constructing “breakwater” along the seashore to prevent strong currents of water from flowing into the resorts areas.

“This (breakwater) is very important to save the resorts” he added.

By Dexter A. See