The summer capital of the country is also the most hazard-prone, with one-third of the city prone to landslides, said government geologists.
BY ACE ALEGRE
BAGUIO CITY – The summer capital city of Baguio is considered by government geologists as the riskiest citiy in the country, thus affirming earlier findings by the World Bank placing the city as one of the seven riskiest cities in the world.
One-third of the city is landslide-prone, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Cordillera region chief Engr. Neoman dela Cruz said. The MGB based this conclusion on their previous mapping and after the July 16, 1990 killer quake that devastated Baguio City and other Northern Luzon provinces.
“I would say that it is the riskiest,” said Dela Cruz, a government geologist for 18 years, saying that there is a higher percentage for landslides because of its topography. “Sixty to seventy percent of the city is landslide-prone,” Dela Cruz said.
Baguio City has a total land area of 52 square kilometers.
At the height of the typhoon Florita two weeks ago, almost 50 landslides were documented by the City Disaster Coordinating Council. Two major landslides – one along Magsaysay Avenue, and another at San Carlos Heights barangay killed one person and damaged millions of pesos worth of government and personal properties.
MGB supervising geologist Elias Nacario said that landslides in the city were mainly triggered by
the rainfall in the upland city which is heavier compared to the lowlands. Rains in the city were
always heavier and longer during the wet season. Although Baguio sits on six crisscrossing fault lines,
Nacario added, these are not active faults and “are only absorbers when earthquakes occur”.
Dela Cruz however said the MGB doesn’t want to sound alarmist but they are urging Baguio City
officials to recognize of the risks the city face.
“Local government units must understand now,” insisted Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)- Cordillera regional executive director Samuel Peñafiel. He said geo-hazard maps prepared by the MGB have not been given much importance in the land use planning in some towns in the Cordillera. He said that although there is a growing consciousness among local governments, there still needs more prodding.
“They are now accepting the importance of geohazard maps,” dela Cruz acknowledged.
Earlier, the MGB released a geo-hazard report that says some 80 areas in the Cordillera, including Baguio City, are geologically hazardous.
But for Baguio City, Dela Cruz said that a four-year old proposal to make a more detailed geo-hazard map is gathering dust at the city hall. The project is worth P2 million and has not been acted upon, said the MGB chief despite the increasing vulnerability of the city because of the fast urbanization.
Baguio City was originally planned by the Americans in the 1900’s for only 25,000 inhabitants. The city now has a population of 300,000.
Dela Cruz further said that majority of the areas in Baguio City are steep slopes that pose vulnerability to landslides, thus, “are not recommended for housing purposes”. Bulatlat