Palace: Top priority is to prevent repeat of Antique landslide

Even as efforts continue to look for possible survivors in a landslide that hit a mine pit in Antique last week, Malacañang said Sunday the government’s priority now is to find ways to make sure the tragedy is not repeated.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the operator of the Semirara coal mining facility had already suspended its operations while search operations for survivors go on.

“At this point on the side of government, what we want to know is how to prevent an incident like this from happening,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.

She indicated there is no more need to order an indefinite closure of the mining facility until added safety measures are in place as the operator itself had suspended operations.

“I understand the mine operator itself, the operator of Semirara, has suspended its operations,” she said.

As of this weekend, the death toll from the landslide that hit the mining pit in Semirara in Antique had risen to seven.

Energy Undersecretary Ramon Oca said they can only pray the other miners still trapped in the mining pit are still alive.

"Seven dead have been retrieved, three have been rescued. We are always praying they (trapped miners) will still be alive," Oca said in an interview aired on dzBB radio Saturday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the landslide occurred at 11:54 p.m. of Feb. 13 at Semirara Coal and Mining Corp. in Caluya, Antique.

It identified five of the fatalities as Abner Lim, 39; Joven Hocate, 31; George Bragat, 30; Efren Equiza, 28; and Anthony Siblet, 26.

Rescued were Marjun Catoto, 23; Adrian Climar, 29; and Leonardo Sojor, 40.

Still missing are Leovigildo Porras, 50; Jan Riel Planca, 28; Randy Tamparong, 30; Richard Padernilla, 26; and Junjie Gomez, 19.

A report on state-run Philippines News Agency said the Department of Labor and Employment sent two inspectors to the coal mine to inspect the firm's labor and occupational safety and health standards. —KG, GMA News

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