Illegal sand quarrying back in Quezon

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LUCENA CITY—An official of environmental legal defense center Tanggol Kalikasan in Southern Luzon (TK-SL) has expressed alarm over the resurgence of illegal sand quarrying along the coast of Tayabas Bay in Quezon province.

“We’ve been receiving reports from concerned villagers that small-scale sand mining has returned along the beach of Tayabas Bay, particularly in Sariaya town,” Juliet Borlon-Aparicio, TK-SL officer in charge, told the Inquirer.

On Thursday, a coastal resident in Sariaya also tipped off the Inquirer that illegal sand quarrying was back in Tayabas Bay.

“It is slowly returning. Most of the time, the diggings are being done at night,” said the informant who requested anonymity.

He said most of the illegal mining activities were happening on the shores of Barangays Bignay 2 and Quiling.

Last year, government authorities, who inspected Bignay 2, found the village shoreline showing traces of long years of destructive sand mining that left ugly scars along the shallow coast of Tayabas Bay.

The unabated sand quarrying caused the seawater to advance an estimated 300 meters and occupy a sizeable portion of a coconut farmland, the Inquirer learned from villagers last year.

To show the grave effect of long years of beach quarrying, a villager disclosed that the seawater fronting his hut used to be the village’s softball playing field.

Aparicio said the unlawful sand mining would also destroy the natural condition of the beach which had been identified as favorite nesting sites of “pawikan” or sea turtles.

The shore of Tayabas Bay in Sariaya is now known as “haven of baby sea turtles.”

The Sariaya coastline, host to many beach resorts and other tourist-oriented businesses, serves as sanctuary to turtles that usually come to lay and hatch their eggs from October to December.

With the threat posed by climate change, rising sea levels and frequent storm surges, sand quarrying could hasten the destruction of the bay’s natural condition, according to Aparicio.

Aparicio also expressed alarm over reports from their fellow environmental protection advocates that some parts of the Lamon Bay coast in Mauban and Atimonan towns had been showing signs of advancing seawater.

She called on local, provincial and national government agencies to immediately investigate to address the “alarming signs.”

Last week, the World Bank in its global report “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience” warned that climate change was expected to lead to more severe typhoons, higher sea levels and storm surges.

Last Saturday, the beach of Puerto del Mar in Candelaria, Zambales, collapsed and around 80 to 100 meters of shoreline slumped to a depth of 2 meters.

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