GLAN, Sarangani, Philippines – The Philippine Ports Authority has suspended the operation of the port here after authorities found that its facilities had become “unsafe for use” after they were damaged by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Mindanao on Friday .
Cesar Dataya, port manager of Socsargen (South Cotabato, Sarangani, General Santos), said in a Nov. 29 statement that the earthquake “resulted in severe damage to vital facilities and structures” at Glan port, which could not be reopened until its repairs have been completed.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recorded that Friday’s earthquake was an intensity 7 in Glan, the highest on the intensity scale, which is categorized as destructive.
Glan Port is among the five ports in Mindanao included in the network of ports designated as intra-trade platforms among the Association of Southeast Asian Countries.
In the nine months of 2023, it served 552 national ship calls carrying around 7,000 passengers and 27 tons of cargo, of which 21 tons are inbound, mainly bottled products, and 6 MT outbound, mainly copra.
Limited international port
In 2005, the port was declared a “limited international port”, generating massive investments from the national government to improve facilities, including the construction of a roll-on and roll-off ramp. The temporary closure of the port is expected to increase the cost of transporting the city’s products, particularly copra, milkfish, shrimp, bananas and mangos.
In addition to the port, the city hall was also assessed as “unsafe for occupation”. Rey Francisco, Sarangani district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways, said it would take about P20 million to repair the city hall.
Fortunately, the historic landmark of the town of Glan’s original settlers was spared by the earthquake.
Glan is classified by the National Historical Commission as a heritage city, one of the pioneer colonies created by the national government in 1917, designated as Agricultural Colony No. 9. Migration to Glan was mainly done by Cebuanos, adding to the native population of Blaan and Maguindanao .
In Sarangani town of Malapatan, Mayor Victor James Yap Sr. said they were ready to declare a state of calamity given the massive destruction in the town, including the collapse of the fishing port.
The city hall, for example, would need at least P20 million to repair if it got the go-ahead from structural engineers, he said.
Sarangani Governor Ruel Pacquiao said they were also considering a calamity declaration for the province and suspended classes and work in government offices on Monday and Tuesday to make way for a full assessment of the structures.
A report by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) showed that 1,599 houses in the cities of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel and Maasim were damaged, along with several public infrastructures; and counted 79 people who sought medical attention for injuries.
The earthquake affected six of the province’s seven towns – Glan, Malapatan, Malungon, Maasim, Alabel and Maitum, the PDRRMO said.
—REPORTS BY EDWIN M. MASKS AND RYAN D. ROSE