Masara landslide area a no-build zone since 2008

Diana Lhyd Suelto - The Philippine Star
Masara landslide area a no-build zone since 2008
Photo from the Philippine Red Cross shows members of its emergency rescue unit carrying a months-old baby boy rescued from the rubble of the landslide in Barangay Masara, Maco, Davao de Oro. Lower photo shows Philippine Coast Guard working dog Appa assisting rescuers in locating cadavers following the landslide. Appa has assisted in locating three bodies in search and retrieval operations.
Philippine Red Cross

MANILA, Philippines — The locality hit by a landslide in Davao de Oro last week has, since 2008, been identified as a critical area and no-build zone, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) revealed.

Beverly Brebante, MGB Region 11 chief geologist, said each of the assessments conducted at Zone 1, Barangay Masara in Maco town showed active soil movement.?“The area is identified as a critical area since 2008 after a landslide occurred and covered the original Barangay Masara,” Brebante said.

She noted that an advisory issued just last month by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) “again identified Masara as landslide prone.”?Brebante added that the soil composition in the place is made up of volcanic ballistics or fragments of magma and old rocks from a volcanic eruption.?

“The shearline and LPA (low pressure area) caused the volcanic ballistics to get eroded and weathered, which led to the massive landslide,” Brebante explained, referring to the prevailing weather condition in the area in January. ?While there is an active no-build zone declaration in the area, people were still allowed to stay in the area.?Davao de Oro Governor Dorothy Gonzales explained that people were allowed by the previous administration to settle in Masara to give them a semblance of normalcy. The community was then provided with schools and other infrastructure.?She noted having met with the MGB to help the local government find a relocation site after a series of earthquakes in the area in 2022.

“It is our priority to look for relocation sites for the people. We are just having difficulties because there is still no definite recommendation from the MGB as to where they can be relocated,” Gonzales said.?The MGB said they have ground personnel who are looking for suitable relocation sites as well as to do assessments of other landslide critical areas nearby.?“Critical areas are no-build zones,” Brebante said, adding that most portions of Elizalde, Mainit and Masara towns have been identified as agricultural lands.

Given the recent incident, Gonzales said the no-build zone in the landslide area of Masara would be implemented.

“We are prohibiting residents from going back there. They can’t go back to the places that are determined by the agency that are not safe for habitation,” she stressed.

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