Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb. 20, 2006

17 Central Luzon villages 'high-risk'
By Tonette Orejas and Alex Pal

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - At least 17 upland villages in three Central Luzon provinces are at "high-risk" to landslides, according to the chief geologist of the regional Mines and Geosciences Bureau here.

Orlando Pineda identified the highly vulnerable communities as Paltic, Caragsacan, Tanawan and Davil-Davilan in Dingalan town, Dimanayat and Diteki in San Luis town, Villa Maria in Maria Aurora town, Amper and Dinadiawan in Dipaculao town, all in Aurora; Labi in Bongabon town, Sawmill, South Poblacion, Malinao and Pantoc in Gabaldon town, all in Nueva Ecija; and Maamot, Sula and Lubigan in San Jose town in Tarlac.

Pineda said the risks in these villages were determined after a geo-hazard mapping last year.

Straddling the Central Luzon parts of the Sierra Madre and Zambales mountain ranges, these communities experienced landslides following four successive typhoons in November and December 2004.

MGB officials declared Paltic and Villa Maria as "no man's lands," meaning these were not suitable anymore for human settlement.

More than 100 people died in Paltic and five others in Villa Maria at the height of Typhoon Winnie in 2004 when debris from the mountains rolled down and the rivers there changed course, burying the villages.

Pineda said residents in San Miguel in Bulacan experienced damming last year and should also guard against a repeat of a flash flood.

According to him, Villa Maria, Diteki and Dimanayat face isolation as these are bounded by two rivers bulging now with debris. Rescue and relief missions there are possible only through air operations.

On Monday, Pineda advised Governors Bellaflor Angara-Castillo of Aurora, Tomas Joson II of Nueva Ecija, Jose Yap of Tarlac and Josefina de la Cruz of Bulacan to urge vigilance among the residents living in those areas.

Other parts of the country were also found to be landslide prone.

In Sitio Calambuan, Tayasan town, continuous rains brought a landslide. The site is 90 km north of Dumaguete City.

Richard Dayucos, village captain of Ilaya, said no one was reported hurt although the landslide damaged crops and pieces of property in a three-hectare area.

The landslide happened on Friday, two hours before the landslide in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte.

Residents of Ilaya Village have moved out of the place since the 1980s when a river overflowed and brought devastation.

The landslide brought boulders and white silica sand down a 100-meter slope and turned a portion of the Ilaya River into a lake 100 meters wide.

Dario Amistoso, a resident of Barangay Ilaya, said he could hear the landslide from his house some 200 meters away.

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