DENR exec wants investigation of illegal quarry in Mount BanahawBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LUCENA CITY—Illegal rock mining activities are back at the slope of Mount Banahaw, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Saturday.
Sally Pangan, DENR protected area supervisor for Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal, said her office has been receiving reports that quarry operations have resumed outside the permitted areas of licensed mining companies.
“The reports are disturbing,” Pangan said.
She urged the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB) to immediately act on the reports.
Webster Letargo, PMRB vice chair, requested Pangan, concerned citizens and other environmentalist groups to furnish their office with information on the supposed return of illegal mining activities.
“We will also conduct further investigation. We won’t tolerate any violations of the mining permit. Mining outside the assigned area is not allowed,” Letargo said over the phone.
He pointed out that if the reports of illegal quarry resumption were true, the unlawful activities were only recent. He said the PMRB had been regularly monitoring the operations of licensed miners.
The quarry operation at the slope of Banahaw, like any mining activity in other parts of the province, is under the control and supervision of PMRB, with the local government performing only ministerial functions as provided under the Local Government Code.
Letargo admitted that some mining companies sometimes conduct quarry operations outside their allowed area.
“We’ve already issued cease and desist orders to those found violating the terms of their license, he said.
Early this year, PMRB ordered all heavy equipment used in quarrying in Sariaya to be “color-coded” to prevent its use in unauthorized diggings.
Last year, mining authorities and local officials also put to task the multi-tripartite monitoring team (MMT) to prevent the return of unlawful mining operations. The team has the power to revoke the permits of quarry operators found conducting illegal mining, such as operating outside of their licensed areas.
Letargo said the PMRB had been successful in preventing the return of illegal quarry in Banahaw because of the active cooperation of the DENR, local officials, nongovernment organizations and villagers residing around the quarry sites.
Most parts of the 2,177-meter Banahaw, which spans 11,133 hectares, remain restricted to the public as the mountain recovers from decades of environmental degradation.