22 ‘Usman’ fatalities in CamSur Aetas: NCIP

LEGAZPI CITY — The 22 retrieved bodies and five others who remain missing from “Usman”-triggered landslides and flash floods in Buhi, Camarines Sur are all members of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) community locally known “Agta” (Aetas), the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Buhi Service Center confirmed Monday.

Vicente Yguel Jr., NCIP Tribal Affairs Assistant, in an interview, said the victims belonged to the Aeta communities in the mountainous Buhi lakeside villages of Ipil, Iraya and Santa Cruz, that were hit by massive landslides and rampaging floodwaters spawned by Usman’s downpour for 48 hours last Dec. 29 and 30.

“Aside from the dead and the missing Agtas, at least five more were injured and brought to the Bicol Medical Center (BMC) in Naga City for treatment,” Yguel told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

He said one Tirso Conde and his son were scheduled for surgical operation of their fractured arms after they were swept downslope by flash floods.

Carmelita Marquez, Buhi action officer, said the landslide and flooded areas surrounding Buhi lake included three villages inhabited by the Agtas who were originally from Mount Asog and Mount Iriga.

“Probably, these Aetas did not heed the advice of Buhi disaster management officials to evacuate or seek safer grounds to brace for possible disaster since ‘Usman’ was merely under Signal No. 1,” she said.

Marquez said floods at the height of the downpour submerged houses at the Buhi lakeside.

“It was the first time that floods submerged houses here in Buhi. We really did not expect that floods would be that high,” she added.

One of those killed was Anacorita Conde, 50, chieftain of the landslide and flash flood-stricken villages.

Those killed were identified as Sheila, 46; Juan, 40; Danny Boy, 10; Hubert, 6; Rochelle, 15; Urbanito, 12; and a certain Ampit, 9, all surnamed Capiz; Ursolo, 32; Angelo, 3; Rafael, 38; and Analyn, three months old, all surnamed Colina.

Others who died were with surnames Consulta, Competente, Labro, Tejera, Delos Reyes, Cipcon, Decena and Arines.

Missing were Gina Conde, 5; Richard Consulta, 11; and Poferio, Vernecy, and Mai-Mai, all surnamed Colina. 

Mark Nazrrea, Buhi town’s spokesperson, said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources confirmed cracks in the landslide-hit barangays and is likely to recommend the relocation of some 140 families residing near the potential landslide areas.

“But we have yet to finalize everything, particularly the possible relocation of these Aeta communities,” Nazarrea said. (PNA)