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MGB says cracks atop ‘Magdiwata’ dangerous

By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN, Regional Editor-Caraga

SAN Francisco, Agusan del Sur––A geologist of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has confirmed that large cracks atop Mt. Magdiwata indeed poses danger of a lanslide to residents living near the creek downstream if it will be triggered by more rains.

Joel Calugcugan, Senior Geologist of MGB Caraga, made this assessment after he joined a multi-sectoral site inspection last week in the wake of a contoversy that shaped up between government agencies on the veracity of a report that a landslide that may bury populated areas if the tension cracks will give in due to heavy rains.

Calugcugan however clarified the capacity of the landslide would not yet directly hit the houses in Alegria village situated at the foot of the mountain but those living downstream along the banks of Tinggagawan creek.

“The tension cracks are dangerous since these would collapse in the near future,” he said.

Calugcugan issued this warning at the peace and order meeting held at the municipal hall where local officials took turns in lambasting the San Francisco Water District (SFWD) for sowing panic to the people because of the press release distributed to local media outlets about a possible landslide that may bury many parts of the town center if no immediate action will be taken.

In his report, Calugcugan cited four factors that will trigger landslides from the mountain including excessive rainfall, the soil structure that would easily go down with fractured rocks, the slope gradient of the mountain and the location of Mt. Magdiwata which is along the regional fault line.

He recommended for the immediate relocation of the residents near the creek, the clearing of the waterways and planting of more trees.

In a statement yesterday, SFWD general manager Elmer Luzon said they have been implementing concrete solutions that would correlate with the recommendations.

Among them, he added, was relocation of 117 households from 176 living inside the watershed , continuous clearing of waterways and setting up of gabion structures in areas damaged by small landslides, massive reforestation activities and no nonsense drive against illegal logging and mining.

At the meeting, two top local officials castigated the SFWD for issuing reports of a landslide that sowed fear to the public while the local government has been focusing other immediate needs like rescue and relief operations to residents battered by Tropical Depression Agaton.

Citing the MGB report, Mayor Jenny de Asis said there is no cause for alarm on the reported cracks and landslides that would hit the populated areas since Calugcugan observed these were just normal natural phenomenon during heavy rains.

But Luzon stood pat on the report saying there is an urgency to make immediate action after the tension cracks covering a perimeter of one hectare were discovered by SFWD foresters at the height of heavy rains apart from other cracks near the area found in 2011 when Typhoon Sendong hit Northern Mindanao.

Father Artemio Jusayan, parish priest of local Catholic church who went along the mountain climb, said the cracks should not be taken lightly to prevent any disaster. “Good if nothing happens but the point here is to prepare to any eventualities,” he said. “ We should do something because all big disaster started from small things,” he added
Jusayan personally measured the depth of the tension cracks with a wooden stick at about six feet.