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4 DENR execs relieved in landslide’s aftermath

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the relief of four DENR Region 7 officials and the suspension of all quarry operations in eight regions of the country.

Cimatu announced the decision in Naga City, Cebu following a landslide near a quarry site in Sitio Sindulan, Brgy. Tinaan that left dozens dead.

Relieved were Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Loreto Alburo, Finance officer Atty. Jerry Mahusay, chief geologist Al Emil Berador and supervising geologist Dennis Aleta.

Cimatu said an investigating team would look into the accountability of the four officials regarding the landslide.

In ordering a stop to all quarry operations in eight regions, the DENR chief said he only wanted “to have their safety assessed.”

The regions covered by the suspension order are Ilocos, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Bicol, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao, and Caraga.

“The suspension will be effective until such time that the review and assessment of quarry operations are completed, (including) surrounding communities as far as their safety from the impact of the quarry operations and geohazards is concerned,” Cimatu said.

Likewise, the DENR chief ordered a review and assessment of all quarry operations nationwide to determine the safety of their operations and of surrounding communities.

Earlier, Cimatu announced the creation of a team of technical personnel from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) “to conduct a thorough and independent investigation and check why (the landslide) happened, how it happened, and what we should do.”

The environment chief also called for immediate evacuation of remaining residents in the area, proposing that they be relocated to an area at least a kilometer away from the danger zone as he described the site as “volatile”, which could lead to further soil slippage.