By Lesley Caminade Vestil
CITY OF NAGA, Cebu — Officials of a cement manufacturing company admitted that some of their personnel conducted earth-moving operations in Sitio Tagaytay, Barangay Tinaan just before the landslide that killed 29 people in this city on Thursday.
Chito Maniago, Apo-Cemex Corporation spokesman, said their personnel were conducting road developments in the area and not quarrying.
The area where the landslide occurred, Sitio Tagaytay, is located near a mining site of the Apo Land and Quarry Corporation (ALQC) which provides raw materials to the cement-manufacturing firm.
Maniago said his firm is open to being investigated over the recent events. He said the company is also conducting its own internal investigation to determine if there is a need for an improvement in their operations.
Timeline to landslide
During a press conference Friday, Mayor Kristine Chiong of this city became emotional when she disclosed to journalists the timeline leading to the tragic landslide.
In her timeline, Chiong said she received reports from Barangay Tinaan on the presence of cracks in Sitio Tagaytay last August 28.
Due to the presence of cracks in Sitio Tagaytay, Chiong issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against ALQC to stop its operations in the area on August 29.
On the same day, Chiong also received a letter on the geological investigation conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 7.
On September 4, Chiong also received another letter from MGB which found that the cracks in Sitio Tagaytay was not caused by quarry operations, but rather a “natural phenomenon.”
The MGB also stated that the cracks would not cause harm to the surrounding communities, Chiong said.
Following MGB’s recommendation, the mayor said she lifted the CDO on September 6 but she had set some of her own conditions to ALQC.
These conditions included that ALQC would submit regular reports to the city concerning its operations.
On September 11, ALQC reported to the city that cracks seen in Sitio Tagaytay had increase it’s size from 3 millimeters to 35 millimeters, prompting Chiong to recommend for a reevaluation from MGB.
A few days before the landslide, Chiong implemented a series of evacuation conducted on residents in Sitio Tagaytay.
Chito Maniago, Apo-Cemex Corporation spokesman, also confirmed that before some of their personnel conducted earth moving operations in Sitio Tagaytay, Barangay Tinaan just before the landslide occurred.
But Maniago said their personnel were conducting road developments in the area and not quarrying.
As of 4 pm Friday, the number of fatalities have reached 29 while 67 remained missing.
Read more: Landslide toll jumps to 29 in Naga, Cebu