Landslide victims file P4.5 B class suit

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo November 08,2018 - 12:37 AM

NAGA LANDSLIDE CASE/NOV 7,2018: Lawyers Benjamin Cabredo (right) and Xzajyk Caing received the documents from the clerk of court in Talisay City they filed against the responsible of the landslide in the City of Naga last Oct. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

THE filing yesterday of the P4.5 billion class suit in connection with the massive landslide in Naga City which claimed the lives of over 70 persons, was met with cheers by the victims and their families.

At least 36 landslide victims, a concerned citizen and a non-government organization (NGO) stood as complainants in the class suit against Cemex Holdings Philippines Inc., Apo Land and Quarry Corp., Apo Cement Corp., Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-7), City Government of Naga and Cebu provincial government.

Cherry Candol, a cousin of one of the watchmen who died inside the ALQC tenement during the landslide, said she is happy that finally, their fight for justice has started.

“Nalipay gyod ko. Dili ko nawng og kwarta. Ang ako lang gusto, hustisya para sa akong ig-agaw nga hangtod karon wa pa ma-ugkat gikan sa tugkaran sa Apo,” Candol said.

The class suit demands a P500 million rehabilitation fund for the “healing” of ground zero; P500,000 as moral damages for each of the families of the 84 casualties and missing persons (P42 million); P200,000 as exemplary damages for each of the families of the 84 fatalities and missing persons; and P1 million for legal fees.

It also asks for P1 million in damages for each of the 78 fatalities and six missing individuals (P84 million); P1 million each for the 57 houses damaged by the landslide (P57 million); P100,000 for each of the seven injured persons who joined the case (P700,000); and P500,000 for each of the 8,262 displaced individuals (P4.1

The class suit was prepared by at least 10 lawyers headed by veteran environmental lawyer Benjamin Cabrido.

In a press conference held before the filing, Cabrido said he will never forgive MGB-7 for its alleged shortcomings in assessing the risks of the quarry area in Sitios Tagaytay and Sindulan III during their inspection on August 29 when the cracks in the mountain were first reported by the residents.

The reports of ground fissures reached Naga City Mayor Kristine Chiong who issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against ALQC’s quarry operations and subsequently asked the MGB-7 to conduct an inspection on the reported cracks on Aug. 28.

The inspection was made on August 29. On the same day, the assessment report and the clearance that the ground fissures were a natural phenomenon and did not pose imminent danger to the community were furnished to Mayor Chiong.

Cabrido lashed at the “very quick” work done by the MGB-7 inspectors in the area.

“That’s why I will ask Mayor Chiong during the hearing kung unsang orasa niya nadawat na ang report. If she will
answer that she received the report by 3 p.m., then 100 percent sure that the assessment was not done in the MGB office in

Mandaue but in the premises of Apo,” Cabrido said.

“There is no way that anyone can go back and forth from Naga and their office in Mandaue City in those few hours. That
report must have been made inside Apo,” Cabrido added.

While not all the victims participated in the filing of the class suit, Cabrido explained that the nature of the
complaint will benefit all the victims if it will be favored by the court.

“Ang nipirma ani nga kaso, wala ra mangayo og danyos para sa ilang kaugalingon but also represents the other victims. If in God’s will, the court will side with our position, the reward for damages will be given to all persons affected by the landslide,” Cabrido explained.

Vincent Isles, one of the volunteer lawyers, said they hope that the case will lead to more “responsible” mining policies in the country.

“This is the right time that we ask for amendment and for us to draft better policies. More than the damages, the question is kanus-a man maundang ang pagkabkab sa Naga?” Isles said.

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