The local government will host a “pammakan” with the traditional Benguet rituals led by elders and other community leaders to pay respect to those who died in the tragedy.
“We will commemorate the September 15, 2018 tragedy to pray for the souls of the people who died during that time,” Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said.
“Part of the prayers and rituals will also be asking that God spare the province of Itogon with another tragedy that has a massive impact such as the landslide incident that killed more than 80 individuals during the Ompong storm,” the mayor added.
It could be remembered that several landslide incidents occurred in Itogon town with death toll reaching more than 100 and several more missing.
The worst was the massive landslide at Barangay Ucab particularly at Level 070 that buried alive at least 80 individuals. This led to the stoppage of small scale mining activities in the entire region that affected the livelihood of many people and other stakeholders in the small scale mining industry in the Cordillera region.
Landslide incidents as well as deaths were also recorded in the barangays of Ampucao, Dalupirip, Loacan, Poblacion and Virac.
Based on the Department of the Interior and Local Government-CAR report, there were 114 bodies that were identified during the Ompong tragedy in the whole region, 12 unidentified body parts and nine still missing.
Palangdan said the number of casualties in the landslide in Barangay Ucab was due to the stubbornness of the people who did not heed the call for pre-emptive and forced evacuation. But he explained that past disasters and calamities have taught the municipality and its people many valuable lessons.
A lesson learned and being applied today is the willingness of residents particularly in danger zones such as landslide susceptible and flood prone areas to conduct pre-emptive evacuation when there are typhoons or during continuous rains.
As the affected residents recover from the tragedy, the local government unit is still working for a better rehabilitation plan to be implemented in the municipality to ensure a better and safer Itogon. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)
By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis