300 per­sons from 3 sitios fled their homes due to land­slides caused by move­ment in fault line

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Morex­ette Marie B. Er­ram COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Ran­nie Moreno and his el­dest son Ricky went back to their wooden house that sat on topo­fahillatSi­tioCal­franco, Barangay Lower Be­cer­ril in Boljoon town, south­ern Cebu, to get some of their be­long­ings on Mon­day, two days af­ter they aban­doned it due to the series of land­slides. When head­ing back to his aunt’s house where his fam­ily was tem­po­rar­ily stay­ing, Ran­nie heard the sound of the soil crash­ing down.

When he and his teenaged son looked over their shoul­ders, they were shocked to see that their house was al­ready askew.

One of its stilts no longer touched the ground be­cause the soil un­der­neath it had cas­caded down the hill.

The in­sta­bil­ity of the ground at Si­tio Cal­franco was the rea­son why Ran­nie, 44, his wife Gemma, 44, and their four chil­dren aban­doned their home on Satur­day and sought shel­ter in his aunt’s house.

But it was not just the Morenos who didn’t feel safe in their own house af­ter the land­slides had be­come more fre­quent.

Six­teen other fam­i­lies or more than 200 in­di­vid­u­als also left their homes, which made Si­tio Cal­franco look like a ghost town.

Two other sitios — Sangi and Up­per Can­siloy — in Barangay Lower Be­cer­ril have been af­fected by in­ces­sant land­slides that started on Fri­day, af­fect­ing 19 fam­i­lies or about 100 in­di­vid­u­als. One house was buried in Up­per Can­siloy.

Most of the af­fected fam­i­lies stayed with either their rel­a­tives or friends whose houses were lo­cated in safer ar­eas. No one was re­ported hurt.

Boljoon, a 5th class mu­nic­i­pal­ity (an­nual in­come: at least P15 mil­lion but not more than P25 mil­lion), is 105 km south­east of Cebu City. Lower Be­cer­ril has a to­tal of nine sitios.

Data from the Philip­pine In­sti­tute of Vol­canol­ogy and Seis­mol­ogy (Phivolcs) showed that there are three fault lines that cut across 17 ar­eas in Cebu.

One is re­ported in cen­tral Cebu, cov­er­ing the ci­ties of Cebu, Naga, Danao, Man­daue, Tal­isay, Toledo and the towns of Balam­ban and Com­postela.

The nine oth­ers are in the towns of Os­lob, Gi­nati­lan, Boljoon, Ale­gria, Al­coy, Ar­gao, Dalaguete, Minglanilla, and Mal­abuyoc in south­ern Cebu.

Ar­eas close to fault lines are prone to earth­quakes and slight move­ments in the land, such as land­slides and rock­slides.

The move­ment of the fault line in­deed trig­gered land­slides in the three sitios in Barangay Lower Be­cer­ril in Boljoon.

The first land­slide was re­ported in Si­tio Sangi on Fri­day, prompt­ing 11 fam­i­lies to evac­u­ate from their homes and seek shel­ter at the town’s sports com­plex in Barangay Pobla­cion. They later moved in with their rel­a­tives on Sun­day.

Eutemio Ter­nate, head of the Lo­cal Disas­ter Risk Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment Of­fice in Boljoon, ex­plained that Sangi was sit­ting on top of a fault line which had been mov­ing, trig­ger­ing the land­slides.

Un­for­tu­nately, the fault line cuts across the three sitios: Sangi, Up­per Can­siloy and Cal­franco. Since the fault line re­mained un­sta­ble, the land­slides con­tin­ued.

The move­ment of the fault line didn’t only re­sult in land­slides but was also chang­ing the to­pog­ra­phy of the moun­tain­ous ter­rain of Barangay Lower Be­cer­ril.

When CEBU DAILY NEWS vis­ited the area on Mon­day morn­ing, four-wheel ve­hi­cles could not pass through the road that con­nected Barangays Lower Be­cer­ril and Up­per Be­cer­ril be­cause of the cracks caused by the move­ment of the fault line.

Lower Be­cer­ril Barangay Coun­cilor So­corro Medelda said they were also sur­prised to see that the 15-km-long Be­cer­ril-Nug-as Road ap­peared to have been split into two.

The crack, caused by another move­ment in the fault line on Mon­day morn­ing, was about half-a-meter wide and 20 me­ters long. A por­tion of the road has been el­e­vated to six me­ters high.

To ren­der the road pass­able even to mo­tor­cy­cles, the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment of Boljoon filled the crack with soil and cov­ered the sur­face with lime­stones.

“The earth we’re stand­ing on con­tin­ues to move. Ev­ery time the ground moves, we panic a bit. This is why the 17 fam­i­lies of Si­tio Cal­franco de­cided to leave be­cause we felt like any­time our houses will be buried by erod­ing soil. We fear for our safety,” stated Medelda.

“As you can see, the lime­stone we used to cover the makeshift road is soft and the ground be­low, it is also soft. And we can­not as­cer­tain if heav­ier ve­hi­cles can ac­tu­ally pass it,” she added.

Boul­ders and up­rooted trees had also blocked the flow of Lu­sopan River on Fri­day. The im­pounded wa­ter had reached about 40 feet deep or equiv­a­lent to a three-story build­ing.

Ter­nate said that if the nat­u­ral dam broke loose, the wa­ter could eas­ily wash away ev­ery­thing on its path due to the sheer vol­ume.

“We were told that they had suc­cess­fully de­creased the wa­ter level by three me­ters. That’s a re­lief but the clear­ing op­er­a­tions there will be 24/7 un­til the Lusapon River can fi­nally flow back to the sea,” said Ruben Niere, Boljoon pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer.

Heavy equip­ment from the Cebu pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment slowly re­moved the de­bris that blocked the river’s flow. At that same time, the river­bank had been widened to re­lease the pres­sure from the nat­u­ral dam and pre­vent it from break­ing.

Niere said they were re­lieved that res­i­dents of Barangay Lower Be­cer­ril lo­cated near Lu­sopan River vol­un­tar­ily left their homes while the clear­ing op­er­a­tions were on­go­ing.

He said the res­i­dents could re­turn to their homes once the au­thor­i­ties had de­clared that it was safe for them to do so.

Niere said they were still wait­ing for rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Mines and Geo­sciences Bu­reau (MGB) of the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources to help them as­sess if res­i­dents should go back to their homes in Sitios Sangi, Cal­franco and Up­per Can­siloy af­ter the land­slides.

But Ran­nie and his fam­ily are not keen in re­turn­ing to their house that sat on top of the hill at Si­tio Cal­franco.

“We don’t want to re­turn there. We can build another house. Be­sides we were just care­tak­ers of the land where it stood. An owner of a co­conut farm just hired me as its care­taker so it’s not re­ally a prob­lem for us to start over again,” ex­plained Ran­nie, who sold co­pras for a liv­ing.

For Ran­nie, the safety of his fam­ily is an ut­most pri­or­ity.


An aerial shot of a hill in Si­tio Cal­franco, Barangay Lower Be­cer­ril, shows por­tions of the hill where the land­slide oc­curred.


Boljoon town work­ers use heavy equip­ment to clear a barangay road af­fected by a land­slide in Barangay Lower Be­cer­ril.

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