Project SCaRP Team conducts assessments at landslide site

Itogon, Benguet – Three landslide sites were visited by Project SCaRP last April 12, 2019 as part of their landslide reconnaissance task. The landslide incidents happened in Barangay Ucab in Itogon, Benguet where its most recent event occurred on September 15, 2018 and resulted to 67 casualties while 26 more people remained missing1 as reported by the local government. Engr. Fibor J. Tan with Dr. Georgina Bennett, Mapua and UEA Principal Investigators respectively, met with Itogon Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) Head Engr. Cyril L. Batcagan earlier that day to introduce and convey the significance of the project to their area. Engr. Batcagan stated that several warnings and pre-emptive evacuations were conducted in susceptible areas since one week prior to the recent landslide incident caused by continuous rainfall brought about by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut). 

The team recorded Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates and took photographs of the landslide sites as part of their preliminary data gathering activity. Landslide assessments and hazard identification were made as well in the three sites visited. Dr. Bennett demonstrated to the Mapua Project Team few of  the established methodologies used abroad for landslide mapping such as integration of onsite imageries on a mapping application like GIS2GO using a tablet device. The team also had an audience with Itogon Municipal Mayor Hon. Victorio T. Palangdan who expressed excitement and gratitude for considering their municipality as one of the pilot study areas of the project. The local government of Itogon conveyed full support to the project and looks forward to its output. Itogon, Benguet has been declared a high susceptible area to landslides based on the findings of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera Administrative Region (MGB-CAR).

The project entitled, “Simulating Cascading Rainfall-triggered landslides and related sedimentation in the Philippines (SCaRP)” is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD) and UK NERC through Newton Agham. The project aims to understand relationship between landslide events, meteorological drivers, and preconditioning landslide factors in the country in order to predict landslides and relate them to sediment delivery rates to nearby river systems. Project SCaRP is composed of engineers and scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in United Kingdom and Mapua University in the Philippines. Engr. Tan is an Associate Professor of Mapua University in Manila, Philippines and a candidate in PhD in Civil Engineering major in Water Resources Engineering2. Dr. Bennett obtained her PhD at ETH Zurich in 2013 and is a Lecturer in the Physical Geography of Natural Hazards at the University of East Anglia with expertise in hazards and earth-surface dynamics of steep mountain catchments2. The project is in collaboration with local partner agencies namely the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS); Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA); Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB); National Water Resources Board (NWRB); and Weather Philippines Foundation (WPF). The project, based at Yuchengco Innovation Center in Mapua University, will run for three years (2019 - 2022) with pilot study areas in Benguet, Isabela, Biliran Island, and Compostela Valley.