ALQC re­spects vic­tims’ de­ci­sion to file class suit

Cebu Daily News - - NEWS - by Ros­alie O. Abatayo and Zena V. Magto COR­RE­SPON­DENTS

Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC) has said that it will re­spect the de­ci­sion of some land­slide vic­tims in fil­ing a P4.5 bil­lion en­vi­ron­men­tal class suit against the com­pany and five oth­ers over the mas­sive land­slide in Barangay Ti­naan, City of Naga last Septem­ber 20.

In a state­ment sent to CEBU DAILY NEWS by ALQC rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chito Ma­ni­ago, the com­pany said that it will an­swer all the al­le­ga­tions thrown against them in the proper fo­rum.

“We find it very un­for­tu­nate, how­ever, that per­son­al­i­ties be­hind this ac­tion de­cided to pur­sue this case de­spite the clear find­ing of DENR (De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources) tech­ni­cal ex­perts that the land­slide is a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non and not caused by quarry or mining op­er­a­tions of APO Land & Quarry Cor­po­ra­tion,” the state­ment said.

ALQC said they will stand by the find­ings of the ge­ol­o­gists from the Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau (MGB) Cen­tral Of­fice who as­sessed the land­slide in­ci­dent in Barangay Ti­naan, City of Naga.

MGB chief ge­ol­o­gist Liza Man­zano, dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of their find­ings last Oc­to­ber 22, said that the land­slide was “unique” and was likely caused by four fac­tors in­clud­ing soil char­ac­ter­is­tics, pre­vi­ous earth­quakes, cli­mate and hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties like quar­ry­ing and ur­ban­iza­tion.

“Any ac­tiv­ity that you do to change the land­scape of the moun­tain, in­clud­ing quarry op­er­a­tions, is con­trib­u­tory to the in­ci­dent,” she said after the pre­sen­ta­tion.

But Man­zano also said that a sep­a­rate team from MGB that con­ducted an­other in­spec­tion ruled that ALQC, which op­er­ates in Barangay Ti­naan, did not com­mit any mal­prac­tice.

The camp of en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyer Ben­jamin Cabrido, who leads the coun­sels of the class suit, how­ever, main­tained that the tragedy could have been prevented had ALQC ob­served proper pro­ce­dures in their quarry.

The suit cited ALQC, its sis­ter com­pany Apo Ce­ment Corp. and mother com­pany Ce­mex Hold­ings Philip­pines, Inc. for mal­prac­tice in their quarry op­er­a­tions that led to the tragedy which claimed the lives of at least 78 peo­ple.

The other re­spon­dents are the city govern­ment of Naga, the Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau (MGB-7) and Cebu Pro­vin­cial govern­ment.


The class suit, filed by at least 36 land­slide vic­tims, de­mands a P500 mil­lion re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fund for the “heal­ing” of ground zero; P500,000 as moral dam­ages for each of the fam­i­lies of the 84 ca­su­al­ties and miss­ing per­sons (P42 mil­lion); P200,000 as ex­em­plary dam­ages for each of the fam­i­lies of the 84 fa­tal­i­ties and miss­ing per­sons; and P1 mil­lion for le­gal fees.

It also asks for P1 mil­lion in dam­ages for each of the 78 fa­tal­i­ties and six miss­ing in­di­vid­u­als (P84 mil­lion); P1 mil­lion each for the 57 houses dam­aged by the land­slide (P57 mil­lion); P100,000 for each of the seven in­jured per­sons (P700,000); and P500,000 for each of the 8,262 dis­placed in­di­vid­u­als (P4.1bil­lion).

If the case suc­ceeds, all land­slide vic­tims will re­ceive the mon­e­tary de­mands for the dam­ages, re­gard­less if they filed the case or not, since it is a class suit.

Mean­while, for­mer Naga City Mayor Valde­mar Chiong ve­he­mently de­nied al­le­ga­tions that he threat­ened evac­uees housed at the Enan Chiong Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter (ECAC) that they will not be given fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance by the city should they as­sist the fil­ing of the class suit.

Evac­uees in ECAC also tes­ti­fied that they could not re­call see­ing the for­mer mayor visit the evac­u­a­tion re­cently.

Theresa Al­forque, 66, an evac­uee at ECAC, claimed that it is un­think­able for Chiong to threaten them.

“Wa gyud na mahitabo na si Mayor (Valde­mar) Chiong nang hasi diri, bisan ka usa lang, bisan gamay lang,” Al­forque said.

Chiong said that he will def­i­nitely file a case against who­ever made the al­le­ga­tion.

Kim­berly Mon­terde, one of the ini­tia­tors of the case, told CDN that she re­ceived calls from some land­slide vic­tims at 7 a.m. on Mon­day re­port­ing that Chiong al­legedly went to ECAC and an­nounced the names of those who par­tic­i­pated in the case.

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