A big landslide or rockslide
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
The continuous heavy rains the past days caused floods in the lowlands and the whole of Northern Luzon. It loosened soil and rocks on this mountainous region so we should be hearing of landslides everywhere.
Last night we were driving home early evening when we suddenly saw small rocks along Marcos Highway that just fell from the side of the mountain. As we drove through, I thought, if the strong rain would continue, a big chunk of that mountain would come down.
True enough, in about two hours, it happened and two cars were hit. Hopefully nobody got hurt. We still have to get the full details. Heavy equipment arrived in about an hour and they started clearing the road, they stopped only at around 10:30. Clearing the road was a priority as there is no other road where heavy trucks carrying goods for our basic needs could pass to come to Baguio. Well, there is Naguilian Road but it is just too far from those coming from Metro Manila. There is Kennon Road but is open only to light vehicles and was also closed last night due to a landslide. There is also the new road from Tubao passing through the Asin Hot Springs but its sharp curves at Asin coming up to Baguio make it unable to accommodate those long and heavy trailer trucks. So Marcos Highway had to be opened right away.
And it happened. At 5:30 this morning, the men and heavy equipment resumed work. The road was cleared at around 8:00 a.m.
That part of the road should have been made an all-weather one 20 years ago, but that section was left out when the highway was improved with about a billion pesos budget. But Why?
The answer is easy. As a contractor client would relate when we passed by that road doing down to follow up his case at the Court of Appeals in Manila, the budget to shot-crete that section was given to politicians by the contractor. This was the condition for him to bag that government contract to improve the road.
Around 200 meters from that part of the road, the mountain sides beside the road were shot-crete. Steel bars about two meters long, one meter apart from each other, were driven into the side of the mountain to hold a wire mesh covering the side of the mountain. And then concrete was shot into the wire mesh (now they use plastic wire mesh). When it dries, it is like a concrete wall to hold the mountain side from falling onto the road.
Shot-creting of the side of the mountain on that section of the highway should have been a must. The rocks there are easily broken during the rainy season and they fall down as a rockslide.
It happens every time there is a continuous strong rain for many days. This time, some cars were hit. How I wish those were owned by high ranking officials of the DPWH that should be taking care of the improvement and the quality and safety of our roads.**