President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, September 21, vowed to help the victims of the massive landslide in the City of Naga, Cebu, saying he will shoulder the hospitalization and burial expenses of families affected.
“Mangita ko’g kwarta. Ako nay mupalubong sa tanang namatay. Ako nay mugasto. Akoy mubayad sa hospital kung di na mubayad ang mga minahan (I will look for money. I will shoulder the burial and hospitalization expenses if the mining companies will not pay them),” he told the evacuees staying at the East Poblacion Barangay Hall in Naga.
Duterte personally went to Naga on Friday to check on the condition of individuals whose homes were buried after a portion of a mountain collapsed in Sitio Sindulan, Barangay Tina-an and Barangay Naalad.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, September 21, at least 33 people were confirmed dead, while nine were injured in the landslide. Search and rescue operations continue for several others believed to have been trapped in the rubble.
Duterte told the evacuees that they cannot go back to the area, which was earlier declared landslide-prone, but they will be relocated to a safer place.
“Ang mayor (Kristine Chiong) mismo dili na musugot nga mubalhin mo didto. Ang inyong gobernador niingo’g delikado. So si General [Roy] Cimatu ug si General [Eduardo] Año ingon sila nga, ‘Dili na gyud na sila makabalik.’ Dili tungod nga gusto nilang samuk-samukon inyong kinabuhi kung dili para matagaan mo’g proteksyon,” he said.
(Your mayor herself doesn’t want you to go back. Your governor said it’s dangerous. General Cimatu and Año also said that you cannot go back to the area. This is not to make your lives worse, but to protect you).
He said City of Naga Mayor Kristine Chiong and Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III are already talking about the relocation.
The government has identified a lot owned by the Provincial Government and located less than a kilometer from Sitio Tina-an in Naga as possible relocation site.
“Paanhion nako si (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chairman) General (Eduardo) Del Rosario. Siya man to akong gitahasan nga maghimo’g balay-balay o cottage sa Marawi…Ingon una lang ang akong mahatag sa inyo…Basta may kapuy-an, may atop, may balay,” he told the evacuees.
(I will ask HUDCC Chairman General Eduardo del Rosario to come here. He was the one tasked to build cottages in Marawi…I can give you those types of houses…The size doesn’t matter as long as you have a place to live in).
Duterte asked the victims to keep their faith in God, saying they cannot do anything but accept what happened to those who died in the landslide.
“Ibutang nato atong faith sa Ginoo. Wa na man gyud tay mahimo. Naa na man na…Ang ginoo ray kahibaw kung kanus-a ta mamatay. Kadtong atong mga kaigsuonan intawon, wa to sila kahibaw nga tapos na sila anang adlawa,” he said.
(Let us put our faith in God. We can’t do anything. It already happened…Only God who knows the day we will die. Those who passed away, perhaps they don’t know that their lives are going to end that day).
The families affected by the landslide in Naga pointed at the quarrying operations of Apo Land Quarry Corp. as the possible cause of the landslide. Cracks were found in some parts of Sitio Tagaytay in Barangay Tina-an before the tragedy Thursday, September 20.
READ: Landslide survivors, mayor decry ‘negligence’
Duterte told the victims that he will work to stop mining in the country before he steps down from office.
“Ibawal nato na. That’s the only way nga akong buhaton una ko munaog pagkatrabahante sa gobyerno (We will prohibit mining. I will make that happen before I step down from office),” he said.