Gov't warned of possible landslide in Itogon as early as 2016, Palace admits
As early as 2016, the government had the information about the possibility of landslides in Itogon, Benguet due to the "fountain-like" water underneath after the breach of a dam nearby, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday.
In a press briefing, Roque said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ( DENR), including the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), was aware of this study by a group of geologists from the University of the Philippines.
"It means that there's water beneath the soil, because there's water, it would come out. Factored in also the heavy rain, there would really be a soil erosion," he said.
Deaths in Itogon due to landslides have reached 78, with 27 missing , officials said Monday. The tragedy took place during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong on September 15.
Asked if the DENR would be held liable for the incident, Roque said, "I will withhold judgment, because although (DENR) Secretary (Roy) Cimatu acknowledged he received the information, I do not know what action they took."
He said Cimatu is now in the process of inquiring from MGB if they took any steps.
"And preliminarily, they told me that they have actually fined the owner of the mining rights repeatedly, and that these fines have not been paid; I am not sure if the fines are sufficient," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS