ITOGON, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) is now finalizing its recommendation for the declaration of certain areas in Acupan, Virac as no mining and no build zones to guarantee the protection of life and limb from the existence of geohazard areas due to natural and man-made activities in the area.
MGB-CAR regional director Engr. Fay Apil explained technical personnel of the agency are now working out the delineation of the identified no mining and no build zones following the series of landslide incidents in Acupan that was triggered by the continuous heavy rains enhanced by the previos typhoons that visited the province over the past several weeks.
“Our personnel were able to locate small-scale mining tunnels aggravated by the existence of geohazard areas in Acupan that is why we are constrained to recommend the declaration of no mining and no build zones in the area to prevent individuals and properties from being exposed to eminent danger in the future and to serve as a warning for inhabitants in the area to look for safer grounds to building their homes and conduct their livelihood activities,” Apil stressed.
Earlier, Benguet Corporation (BC) requested MGB-CAR to conduct a joint inspection to ascertain the cause of the huge landslide that happened in Acupan at the height of the heavy rains triggered by the enhanced southwest monsoon rains last week that resulted to the closure of the major access roads and the displacement of a number of residents in the area.
On the other hand, Apil revealed that the alleged evident threats to the lives of 12 families living in the area and the pupils of the Goldfields Elementary School due to alleged extreme flow of water from an underground development tunnel is now being subjected to further assessment and evaluation by MGB-CAR technical personnel.
However, the MGB-CAR official said the 12 families that are directly threatened by the possible landslide aggravated by excess water underneath their structures were already advised to relocate to safer grounds while BC immediately dispatched its personnel to do sandbagging activities to protect the slope protection wall of the Goldfields Elementary School from being affected by the huge volume of water underground.
According to her, MGB-CAR and BC technical personnel are awaiting for the huge volume of water to subside to allow them to conduct the required assessment and evaluation of the status of the tunnels underground and determine the cause of the sudden increase in water inside the said tunnels.
She added the development tunnel was owned by the Atlas Mining but the company entered into an agreement with the BC for the latter to use the said tunnel for its operations. However, BC was not able to use the said development tunnel for its operations to date.
Apil pointed out BC was advised to continue doing the required mitigating measures in the goldfields area to make sure that the school will be spared from whatever untoward incidents that may occur due to the continuous flow of huge volume of water from the development tunnel to other tunnels of the company that tend to compromise the safety of life and limb considering that children are the ones exposed to eminent danger during untoward incidents.