Presidential political advisor Francis Tolentino yesterday said the total death toll in Itogon, Benguet landslide has reached 75 while 39 are still missing.
Tolentino said Cordillera Police Regional Office director Chief Superintendent Rolando Nana gave the update, noting that most of the fatalities or those in the evacuation centers were outsiders.
“Most of the deceased came from Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, some from Batangas, some from Quirino. If we’re talking about secondary evacuation centers, their relatives, they don’t have relatives there,” Tolentino said in a TV interview.
“In this particular area, they would rather stay at that place. They went there as workers. Not just the gold mine, but looking for alternative source of livelihood and they prefer to stay there,” he added.
Tolentino said the local government was also to blame for turning a blind eye to small-scale miningm that could caused the landslide.
“I asked the mayor, were these people registered, did they vote in the barangay elections. Kasama sila sa blame,” he said.
Tolentino also urged the passage of the National Land Use Act and rehabilitation of Itogon following the landslide in Barangay Ucab.
In 2017, the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 5240 or “An Act Instituting a National Land Use and Management Policy” which substituted for similar measures on land use.
A similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, but the proposed measure has yet to be approved.