At least 24 small scale miners who were also victims of the tragic landslide in Sitio 070, Ucab in Itogon, Benguet during the height of typhoon Ompong in September are part of the search, rescue and retrieval operations teams at sitio Ha’rang in barangay Banawel where DPWH buildings and some shanties and with at least 30 individuals were buried by landslide during typhoon Rosita last Oct. 30.
Daniel Bulhayon, team leader of the Itogon miners, said upon hearing the news., their group immediately organized a team that would go and join the rescue and retrieval operations in Natonin. They were ready offer their skill in search and rescue particularly through digging earth just like what they are doing as their livelihood then.
“Our presence is our way of saying thank you to all those who helped us during the time that we were also hit by typhoon Ompong,” Bulhayon said in vernacular.
Bulhayon, a miner who lost several relatives in the Ucab landslide, said that they are giving back the favor of helping others in need. This he said is part of the culture and tradition of the Cordillerans where individuals offer and give help and support to those who are in need.
Buhayon related that when they announced their plan to go to Natonin, they were immediately provided with support by several groups and offices. DPWH-Cordillera regional office provided them with their own vehicle with gasoline while the Dept. of Transportation and Railways-Land Transportation Office Cordillera provided them escort from Benguet to Natonin to ensure fast and safe travel.
The team also brought with them relief goods such as rice, canned goods, water bottles and vegetables.from various organizations and individuals in Baguio City and Benguet.
As of Nov. 9, at least 12 individuals are still missing while 17 bodies have already been recovered from the ground zero and the nearby water bodies in Natonin and Paracelis.
Meanwhile, 5th Infantry Division Commander BGen. Leopoldo Imbang Jr., the ground commander of the almost month-long search, rescue and retrieval operations in Ucab, Itogon, Benguet, said the situation in Natonin is more challenging compared to Itogon.
Imbang, who also walked to the landslide affected area, said that the terrain of the place particularly with the presence of a creek below the ground zero makes the SRR operations more difficult for the responders and rescuers as victims may have been washed out to the nearby water bodies and stream towards Paracelis and Isabela.
At least three bodies have been retrieved from the lower streams of Natonin and Paracelis in the past days. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)