Emergency Response Team (ERT) and Engineering Department on standby to safeguard community
Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte / December 2012 – TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (TVIRD) this week mobilized designated members of its Emergency Response Team in its minesite in Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte on the heels of typhoon Quinta making a possible landfall in Mindanao this week. Likewise, the company also alerted its engineering department to expedite the relocation of families living in nearby Agolo community.
Agolo, a small village inhabited by informal settlers mostly seeking employment in TVIRD, has grown significantly in population over the years – its proximity to the plant site giving birth to cottage enterprise and small establishments that thrive on the company’s presence. However, Agolo is unfortunately located at the foot of a hill that has naturally weakened after two recent typhoons have pummeled the region.
“Agolo community sits beside a landslide-prone area and we cannot afford to risk the safety of the people living there,” said General Manager Heliodoro Valmores as company workers speed up the transfer of Agolo’s inhabitants to eliminate any possible harm to members of the community and their dwellings in the event of a landslide that may be caused by heavy rains.
Disaster preparedness and risk management
In the wake of recent calamities in the country, TVIRD has mobilized its personnel as well as considerable resources geared towards preparedness for natural disasters. This has been the company’s order of business for the week. Parallel to this, management and staff gathered used clothing, relief items and monetary donations for the victims of Typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental.
As of press time, nearly half of the Agolo community has been relocated, according to Engr. Ed Nercuit, chief of TVIRD’s engineering department. “The rest will be immediately evacuated by the ERT to the nearby barangay hall extension office once the rains begin,” added Nercuit. The said facility is situated on higher ground and at a safer distance from the Agolo community.
Residents have been evacuated twice by the team this year. First, was during the onslaught of typhoon Lawin last September of this year and again early this month when Typhoon Pablo made its mark as the most destructive storm to hit Mindanao. As typhoon Quinta will be the third storm to hit Mindanao, the company mandated to evacuate the entire community yet again should there be a need to.
Priority on health and safety
Engr. Art Abad, Safety Department Manager and the overseer of the company and the community’s safety reasoned that the decision to clear the area of people was made when a geo-hazard study identified that in its natural course, the grounds have become loosened. The unsteady composition is also compounded by recent strong typhoons that bring an unprecedented amount of rainfall.
“This (Agolo) is the most dangerous place during heavy rains, and it would be best if people are no longer there to prevent the loss of lives,” Abad said.
Abad likewise said that the company’s geo-hazard team performed a survey in the area upon his department’s request. “After the typhoon Lawin, this is so far the only place that remained a geo-hazard that has people living nearby. Ours is a company that puts safety of the lives of our workers and community above everything else,” Abad added, citing the merits of its preventive measures.
“Of course, typhoon Lawin was the worst typhoon we ever experienced,” said General Manager Valmores. “Luckily, no people were hurt from our host communities. But like RT Lim and Siocon, we were not spared by its effects. In fact, until today we are still performing repairs of the damage caused by the typhoon,” he added.
Accordingly, the volume of water that poured was comparable to Typhoon Ondoy that devastated Manila a few years back, prompting Siocon Mayor Ceasar Soriano to declare Typhoon Lawin’s onslaught on September 21 and 22 as the town’s most destructive natural disaster in five decades, which caused the massive flooding in the region that impacted Siocon, Sirawai and Zamboanga City.
TVIRD, local affiliate of Canada’s TVI Pacific Inc., is engaged in the exploration and production of precious and base metals in the Philippines. To date, it has been recognized by the mining industry as the ‘Safest Mine’ in the country for two consecutive years.