No min­ing in Na­tonin, ex-mayor says

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THE MORE than 100 land­slides of dif­fer­ent mag­ni­tudes that oc­curred along the two na­tional high­ways lead­ing to Na­tonin town in Moun­tain Prov­ince are na­ture's act and not in any way re­lated to min­ing, a for­mer mayor said on Mon­day.

“We do not have min­ing in Na­tonin," lawyer Marie Rafael, As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for Leg­isla­tive Af­fairs at the Pres­i­den­tial Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Op­er­a­tions Of­fice (PCOO) said.

"In the his­tory of Na­tonin, we never had this kind of dev­as­ta­tion and deaths but there is no­body to blame be­cause it was na­ture's act," said Rafael, who did not seek re-elec­tion af­ter serv­ing Na­tonin from 2007 to 2010.

“Kung makikita ninyo ang mga roads namin prone sa land­slide, makita ninyo na­man ang moun­tains," she said, adding rain fell on Na­tonin dur­ing ty­phoon 'Om­pong' (Mangkhut) in Septem­ber which al­ready drenched the soil and was ag­gra­vated by the strong rain brought by ty­phoon 'Rosita'," Rafael said.

The over sup­ply of rain caused more than 60 land­slides - al­most ev­ery 50 me­ters away from each other, along the 22-kilo­me­ter stretch of the Na­tonin Paracelis road lead­ing to Ifu­gao and sev­eral other big land­slides and a road cut along the Na­tonin-Bon­toc road, that links them to Bon­toc, the cap­i­tal town of Moun­tain Prov­ince.

Rafael said Na­tonin has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing land­slides in the past af­ter a ty­phoon, which some­times makes the town iso­lated for days or weeks.

“It’s not as dam­ag­ing as this one, not as painful as this one," she said, as she talked about the ca­su­al­ties of the land­slide that washed-away the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways (DPWH) build­ing in barangay Banawel.

Rafael added Na­tonin has no in­dus­triesno min­ing, no fac­to­ries, no malls or even com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments and def­i­nitely not en­gaged in min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that may dam­age na­ture.

The lack of in­dus­tries prompts the na­tives to leave the place.

"The pop­u­la­tion of Na­tonin does not in­crease be­cause peo­ple leave the town to study and work else­where," Rafael said.

Since the 1960’s, she said Na­tonin never grew more than 10,000 be­cause peo­ple leave the place to get a col­lege de­gree and even­tu­ally work else­where.

She said their el­ders have never al­lowed min­ing or any ac­tiv­i­ties that may de­stroy na­ture ei­ther by out­siders or lo­cal res­i­dents, which the town main­tain up to the present. The lack of in­come gen­er­at­ing ac­tiv­i­tites leads to out­bound mi­gra­tion.

“Our forests are vir­gin,” she said.

In­dus­tries that dam­age the en­vi­ron­ment were never al­lowed in the town.

She also shared how sim­ple life is in Na­tonin with res­i­dents con­tended with the lit­tle money they have from their salaries, us­ing the same money to send their chil­dren to school to fin­ish a de­gree and make a name out­side the town, Rafael said.

Na­tonin pro­duces a lawyer ev­ery year, who prac­tices out­side the town but con­tinue to go home to their birth­place.

Most of those who stay in the town are the teach­ers in both the pub­lic and at the catholic school, chil­dren from el­e­men­tary and high school and res­i­dents who are em­re­lieve ployed by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment unit (LGU) and na­tional line agen­cies, Rafael said.

These res­i­dents are the same peo­ple who man­age the rice farms, en­abling them to pro­duce the indige­nous rice va­ri­ety "ko­rel".

Na­tonin, she said, is a sim­ple town, where peo­ple live sim­ply and con­tented with the lit­tle that they have with pride, that they have a rich nat­u­ral re­source that they con­tinue to pro­tect.

While there are no min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the town, the Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau (MGB) in the Cordillera, in its Oc­to­ber 25, 2018 re­port, showed that Barangay Banawel, where the land­slide oc­curred and killed scores of peo­ple, is de­clared as highly sus­cep­ti­ble to land­slide and flood­ing.

Aside from Banawel, the 10 other barangays — Aluno­gan, Balan­gao, Banao, Bu­tac, Ma­d­u­cayan, Pobla­cion, Pudo, Saliok, Santa Is­abel and Tonglayan — are all highly sus­cep­ti­ble to land­slide and flood.

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