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‘Check geohazard maps before buying a house’

Philippine Environment Secretary Ramon Paje. AFP/JAY DIRECTO

MANILA, Philippines—Buying a lot to build a new house? Check out the government’s geohazard maps first to see if the property is located in a place prone to floods or landslides.
That was the advice Environment Secretary Ramon Paje gave on Friday to property buyers and real estate developers. Before buying, they should check the geohazard maps of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to avoid places vulnerable to disaster.
“We strongly advise prospective buyers of land for housing or other infrastructure projects to refer to the geohazard maps to make sure that the lots they are intending to buy are not situated in landslide- and flood-prone areas,” a statement from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) quoted Paje as saying.
The geohazard maps, he said, can be viewed on the websites of the DENR (denr.gov.ph), MGB (mgb.gov.ph), Philippine Information Agency (pia.gov.ph) and the Environmental Science for Social Change (essc.org.ph).
The MGB’s geohazard mapping and assessment program shows the top 10 flood-prone areas of the country: Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Maguindanao, Bulacan, Metro Manila, North Cotabato, Oriental Mindoro and Ilocos Norte.
The top 10 landslide-prone areas, on the other hand, are Benguet, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Kalinga-Apayao, Southern Leyte, Abra, Marinduque, Cebu, Catanduanes and Ifugao.
The maps, with a scale of 1:50,000 (meaning 1 centimeter represents half a kilometer), are downloadable, Paje said.
Property buyers can also see the maps at the offices of their local governments. Paje said maps had been sent to provincial and municipal governments, and even to barangays for reference in their development planning.
Paje said his advice was intended to help the public make the right decision when buying property.
“Buying a house and lot is definitely a big investment for an ordinary family,” Paje said.
If the family is paying for the lot with a loan, it would take at most 30 years to pay back the loan, he said.
Finding out later that the place easily gets flooded and is prone to landslides can be devastating. “So it is better to be on safe side always,” Paje said. [inquirer.net]
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