2 workers buried alive in Legazpi, eroded hill

By Cet Dematera


TWO construction workers were buried alive while two more were injured on Tuesday (Dec. 15) afternoon when a 30-cubic meter chunk of soil collapsed from a hill side in Barangay Pinaric, Legazpi City where a four-story hotel building is being constructed, a police report said.


Lt. Col. Rodelon Betita, Legazpi City police chief, identified those killed as Allan Andes, 47, a helper steelman residing in Barangay Pinaric; and, Rolin Bagacay, also a steelman and resident of Barangay Puro, all in Legazpi City.


Those injured were identified as Ariel Marcelo, 40, a steelman and resident of Poctol, Pilar, Sorsogon; and, Marvin Balmediano, also steelman and resident Barangay 56, Taysan, Legazpi City. The two were already declared in stable condition.


Betita said that the victims were still brought to the hospital but were declared dead on arrival by the attending physicians.


Betita said that due to the volume of the eroded soil, it took the responders some 25 minutes to dig up the body of Andes, and over an hour to retrieve the body of Bagacay.


Andes and Bagacay were installing the still frame at the foundation of the four-story hotel when the 30-meter high hill collapsed and buried the two construction workers and injured Marcelo and Balmediano.


“We received the report that at 2:50 PM a landslide happened in Barangay Pinaric. Then we confirmed it was true when we dispatched one of our teams to the construction site,” Betita said.


Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said he already formed a task force headed by the city’s engineering office to investigate the incident.


“This is a sad event in the wake of the difficulties that we are experiencing because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We will file appropriate charges should we find culpability or negligence from any party,” Rosal told Bicol Mail.


Rosal said the task force would also look into possible violation of the Building Code of the Philippines.


The hotel is being constructed at a hill side lot owned by one Rodelio Sevilla, 69, a retired legal officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.


Legazpi City Engr. Clemente Ibo said that they did not issue a building permit for the construction because the owner did not submit the requirements, particularly an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).


Ibo said that they also issued a cease and desist order (CDO) twice already, but construction works still continued.


“We will dig deep into this incident that claimed two lives. We will find out if there is violation of our existing laws or ordinances of the city,” Ibo said.


Pinaric is a hilly barangay with the highest elevation that is over-looking the commercial district of Legazpi City.