At least 40 people are still missing after a landslide in Itogon, Benguet, but the Office of Civil Defense has ordered rescuers to stop because of the threat of further landslides.
Residents of Barangay Ucab have also been told to evacuate.
On Saturday as Typhoon “Ompong” battered Northern Luzon, a landslide buried a church where small-scale miners and their families sought refuge. So far, 32 bodies have been recovered.
Amid the tragedy, it is easy for local officials and other entities to lay blame on anybody but themselves. For example, Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said his administration was not able to stop families from living in the area because the structure they called the bunkhouse was guarded by personnel of Benguet Corp.
The men were engaged in small-scale mining and gold processing in the Antamok area. The company, however, said they were undertaking these activities without its permission.
Even former Environment secretary Regina Lopez was quick to point the finger of blame. She stayed on at the department until her appointment was not confirmed, waging a war against the mining industry, but doing nothing to stop the arguable more dangerous and unregulated practice of small-scale mining in areas like Itogon and Diwalwal in Mindanao.
Tragedies leave valuable lessons on their path and it is up to us to mine them for lessons so that they do not occur again.