Ormoc ‘lumad’ protest ‘forced evacuation’ from quake prone site

July 13, 2017 - 8:59 AM
A policeman carries a bundle as residents of Barangay Lake Danao, Ormoc City are relocated to what local government officials say is a safer evacuation center. (photo by Bro. Tagoy Jakosalem, OAR)

ORMOC CITY, Leyte — Residents of Barangay Lake Danao in Ormoc City, Leyte were relocated Wednesday, despite their protests, from what authorities have confirmed is an “unsafe” location in the wake of last week’s 6.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.

The affected residents, long-time settlers who call themselves “lumad,” were ordered transferred by the local government from Sitio Cambantug, where they have been staying in tents in an open area a few kilometers from their destroyed houses, to a “safer” evacuation center in Dolores.

The ‘tent city’ in Sitio Cambantug, Barangay Lake Danao just before the evacuees were relocated. (photo by Bro. Tagoy Jakosalem, OAR)

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has said the area of Barangay Lake Danao, one of the communities most affected by the tremor, is prone to landslides. Almost all the houses in the barangay proper were either destroyed or damaged during the June 6 quake.

Police officers, workers from the Taganito Mining Corporation and local rescue personnel helped the evacuees dismantle their tents and load their belongings to vehicles that ferried them to the new evacuation center.

Residents of Barangay Lake Danao, Ormoc City and their belongings are loaded onto a truck for transfer to what the local government said is a safer evacuation center. (photo by Bro. Tagoy Jakosalem, OAR)

But leaders and elders of the lumad questioned the move, citing the lack of consultation and asking if the evacuation center they were being taken to would be safer.

Mostly livestock growers and vegetable and flower growers, they also worried about their livelihoods and what would happen to their animals.

“What will happen to our livestock? We cannot bring them to the relocation site,” Renante Piano said.

Valentin Laurente, a lumad leader, said: “We are already safe here in Cambantug, which is an open area. We don’t need to relocate again especially to a relocation where we are not safe. We were told we would be housed in a gym (but) what if the gym collapses because of an aftershock? There will be panic and more chaos.”

Besides, he added, “from here we can still monitor our livestock.”

However, Laurente had to accede to the transfer after he was told aid he had been receiving would be cut off.