The recently constructed 100-meter diversion road that reconnected the town proper to the mountain villages of Boljoon town in southeastern Cebu previously cut off by landslides was unpassable except to motorcycles yesterday.
The incessant rains since Monday made the diversion road too risky for four-wheel vehicles. The rains also upped the danger faced by residents in the landslide-stricken areas of this fifth-class municipality, some 105 kilometers from Cebu City.
Ruben Niere, Boljoon’s public information officer, told Cebu Daily News by phone yesterday that the rains also prompted authorities to halt clearing operations on the landslide-hit 15-km-long Becerril–Nug-as Road in Barangay Lower Becerril that connected Barangay Poblacion to the mountain barangays of Lower Becerril, Upper Becerril, Lunop, Nangka and San Antonio. Barangay Poblacion and the five mountain villages are now under a state of calamity.
The diversion road, which is located 20 meters away from the now-closed Becerril–Nug-as Road, was opened last November 8 by the municipal government with the help of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), the Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Visayas (DPWH-7), Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) and the local governments of Oslob and Dalaguete.
“Boljoon has been experiencing bad weather since (Monday). That’s why we instructed our personnel doing the clearing operations up there to stop since the ground is so saturated with rainwater. It’s too muddy and we need to avoid our heavy equipment from slipping and being buried completely in the mud,” Niere said.
“The ground beneath the diversion road is too soft for heavier vehicles to pass through. Only motorcycles are allowed to traverse it,” he added.
The series of landslides, which first struck Sitio Sangi in Barangay Lower Becerril on October 27, were attributed to the softening of soil brought about by days of continuous rain. The continued movement of the land has so far displaced at least 55 families (270 individuals) residing in three of Lower Becerril’s sub-villages: Sitios Sangi, Camp Franco and Upper Cansiloy.
Due to the unpredictable nature of landslide, the PDRRMO also advised the local government of Boljoon to implement a forced and massive evacuation of more families in other affected areas.
Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama said they had difficulty convincing the other affected residents (37 families, 150 individuals) to leave their homes and may just forcibly evacuate them.
Niere, however, said they have yet to implement the evacuation scheme despite the heavy rains experienced in the last two days.
“We have our disaster team on standby in the area, 24/7, in case the need to evacuate the remaining families will arise. A command center was already put up by the MDRRMO (Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office) and the PDRRMO to centralize all updates and instructions,” he explained.