THE death toll as a result of the landslide that buried dozens of houses in Naga City in Cebu last Thursday rose to 59 yesterday as joint Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory and National Bureau of Investigation personnel continued their Disaster Victim Identification process in the area, Police Regional Office 7 director, Chief Superintendent Debold M. Sinas said.
Sinas, citing reports from the ‘Ground Zero’ command post said that as of 4:33 a.m. yesterday, 59 have been officially recorded as dead as a result of the landslide that struck Sitio Sindulan in Barangay Tina-an and Bgy. Naalad. Ten have been rescued alive from the tragic site, the latest of them one Geraldine Lapitan.
He added that a report from Naga City Police Station head, Chief Inspector Roderick Gonzales identified one of the three victims to be pulled out lately from the site as Benjie Acosta, 32. The two others are an unidentified male and female.
The recovery of more bodies in the area took place as local residents readied to protest the alleged quarrying operations of Apo Land Quarry Corporation in Cebu. The protesters planned to stage a protest march against mining from Naga City up to the Cebu provincial capitol.
Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde earlier said all search, rescue and retrieval operations in Itogon, Benguet and in Naga City, Cebu are ongoing with the police optimistic that they will find more survivors.
“We hope we can get more survivors in Naga City in Cebu and even in Itogon, Benguet,” said the PNP chief even as he added that they have set aside funds needed to repair damaged roofs and other facilities of police stations in Cagayan Valley and other parts of the country as a result of killer typhoon ‘Ompong.’
Latest PNP count showed that 95 persons died as a result of typhoon ‘Ompong’ two weeks ago, 79 of them from Cordillera region, 10 in Cagayan Valley, 3 in Central Luzon, 2 in Metro Manila and 1 in Ilocos-Pangasinan region.
Fifty others were recorded as missing due to the landslide that hit an area in Itogon, Benguet while 42 were rescued.
Gen. Albayalde said they are closely monitoring all search, rescue, relief and retrieval operations in the affected areas since Day 1.
“The Command Group and Quad Staff are closely monitoring the situation in areas of operation where PNP search and rescue units continue to race against time to find more survivors of two landslides in Itogon, Benguet and Naga, Cebu. I have instructed the concerned staff officers to ensure that required provisions and resources to support these operations are adequately provided. We remain hopeful that we will be able to rescue more survivors as the search continues,” the PNP chief said.
Sinas said on Sunday evening, Naga City Mayor Kristine Chiong convened the local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to assess whether to shift their current operations from search-and-rescue to retrieval.
The Central Visayas police director said during the meeting, the Incident Crisis Management recommended to continue the search-and-rescue operation for 3 more days, a recommendation which was approved by the mayor.
He said the Department of the Interior and Local Government Region 7 activated the Management of the Dead with the local National Bureau of Investigation as the lead agency in the Disaster Victim Identification with the Regional Crime Laboratory Office 7 as a support agency.
Sinas said the forced evacuation in Sitio Sindula and part of Bgy. Naalad in Naga City is still in effect although some residents were already allowed to visit their residences.
The official identified the other fatalities as Althea Siton,4; Olivia Moral, 63; Ananabel Lobiano, 40; Romeo Jabonilia, 40; Francisco Yopac,60; Michael Versales, 16; Mark Laurence Campanilla,3; Vianca Versales,19; Raul Gepuit, 47; Laura Capoy, 52; one Baby Girl Campanilla; another Baby Girl Campanilla; Nina Siton; Crystal Jean Siton; Lauro Campanilla; Juanito Siton,42; Emeliana Siton,85; Jocelyn Siton,11; Aracelle Lobiano,49; Jemuel Campanilla,12; Jazwel Campanilla,32;