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Exodus of RP geologists hampers mapping project

MANILA, Philippines -- Like many professional Filipinos, geologists working for the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have been joining the exodus for greener pastures.

This has put a crimp on the government mapping of the country to identify areas prone to landslides and flash floods, an MGB official said yesterday.

Antonio Apostol, MGB geohazard mapping project leader, admitted the geologists’ departure would adversely affect the government’s geohazard mapping project scheduled to end in 2010.

Apostol said 70 of the MGB’s 120 geologists had resigned over the past several months to take higher paying jobs in mining companies here and abroad.

“There are only 40 to 50 geologists left in the MGB to continue the geohazard mapping project of the DENR,’’ he said.

An MGB geologist’s monthly salary ranges from P8,000 to P10,000.

With a smaller crew to do the work, Apostol estimated the MGB would be able to map out only 150 municipalities, instead of the ideal 250 municipalities, a year from 2008 to 2010.

With the full complement of 120 geologists, the MGB was able to surpass government geohazard mapping targets, he said.

The geohazard mapping project aims to cover a total of 1,660 municipalities and cities nationwide in the next three years. So far, 918 municipalities have been mapped out.

This year alone, as of October, the MGB had completed mapping out 198 municipalities in Leyte, Biliran, Quezon, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Aurora and Camarines Norte, as well as parts of Isabela, Cagayan, Mindoro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley.

Apostol said the DENR geohazard mapping team was speeding up the identification of relocation sites in communities vulnerable to landslides and floods, and the production of geohazard maps, posters, videos, pamphlets and other materials for local government units.

Most of the provinces prone to landslides and floods are located in Luzon and the Cordilleras, MGB officials had earlier said.

Benguet, Mt. Province, Nueva Vizcaya, Kalinga Apayao, Southern Leyte, Abra, Marinduque, Cebu, Catanduanes and Ifugao were the most highly susceptible to landslides, the MGB said in July.

On the other hand, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Maguindanao, Bulacan, North Cotabato, Oriental Mindoro, Ilocos Norte and Metro Manila were the most flood-prone provinces, they said.

Environment Secretary Lito Atienza had earlier said he would seek a higher budget for the DENR for 2008 and use the increase to hire more geologists.



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