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Unearthing Mining Disasters in Itogon, Benguet and Naga City, Cebu

Alfredo Mahar Francisco Lagmay, PhD[1], Nathan Veracruz[2]

National Academy of Science and Technology
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology – Department of Science and Technology


According to World Risk Report, Philippines is atop the list of countries with the highest level of disaster risks.
The risk to disasters is primarily due to two factors; it location in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the effect of the
Southwest and Northeast monsoons. Great examples of the natural disasters are the landslides in the mining
areas of Benguet and Cebu which destroyed livelihoods and claimed several lives as well. Such disasters
could be averted or at least be limited by enhancing disaster preparedness and management. This can be
done with the use of probabilistic multi-scenario-based multi-hazard maps. The said maps, under the studies
of University of the Philippines Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (UP-NOAH), are mainly based
on the physics of water and stability of rocks in certain areas where natural disasters may happen. The
general risk assessment of the study can be described as risk = f (hazard, exposure, vulnerability). The
approach of the study for the maps was probabilistic; assessments can be characterized by uncertainties due
to natural randomness of hazards and incomplete understanding and measurement of the risk under
consideration (OECD, 2012). The results of the same study showed that the disasters were debris avalanches
(hammocks) which resulted from triggered mountain slopes due to excess rain and land shaking. The
disasters were similar to the one that happened in Guinsaugon in Southern Leyte in 2006 where more than
a thousand people were killed and had a runout twice its height. The maps produced by the study were
effective proven by the significant statistical decrease of deaths from natural disasters since Project Noah
was launched in 2012. However, the stoppage of the research in 2016 resulted to missed opportunities of
disaster prevention such as what happened after Typhoon Niña. In Typhoon Niña’s case, only official hazard
maps recognized by the government were used; these maps were only based on interviews, expert opinions,
and lack on suggestions for safe places of evacuation. The probabilistic maps, on the other hand, also
correctly predicted the affected areas of disasters in Benguet and Cebu. The difference of the results of the
two maps highlights the importance of complementing science and technology to risk assessments. Mere
interviews and study of the past cannot capture the future.

Keywords: disaster risk; hazard map; UP-NOAH; landslide; Benguet; Cebu


Abstract made by: Jayvee Clarence G. Gayoso