DENR to allow rock quarry inside Banahaw buffer zone

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LUCENA CITY—Rock quarrying inside the 1-kilometer buffer zone leading to Mount Banahaw’s protected area in Sariaya, Quezon, might turn out good for villagers living downstream, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

Salud Pangan, park superintendent for Banahaw and the Mt. San Cristobal Protected Landscape, said in an interview on Sunday that quarried rocks had been impounded naturally inside the buffer zone on the upper slope of the mountain and could be dangerous to those living below it.

“If the stocks of boulders will not be removed, it will pose serious threats to lowlanders in the event of days of strong rains and flash floods,” Pangan said.

She said, however, that there should be very strict monitoring of the mining activities and all government conditions must be observed.

In May, two licensed quarry operators have requested the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to allow them to mine inside the buffer zone in Barangay (village) Sampaloc II.

“They have an application with the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) to operate inside the buffer zone. But before they will be given a permit by the PMRB, they should first secure a permit from the PAMB,” Pangan explained.

The park official also declared support to a proposed multisectoral investigation into quarry operations in central parts of the province, including Sariaya, as planned by Rep. Vicente Alcala of Quezon’s second district.

Alex Tolentino, head of Alcala’s district office here, said the lawmaker was also concerned over the reported return of illegal sand mining along the coast of Tayabas Bay, also in Sariaya, which belongs to the second district.

But Janet Geneblazo-Buelo, Quezon public information officer, has refuted media reports on the return of a beach quarry along the shoreline.

A recent joint investigation by the DENR and the provincial government showed that the receding coastline was caused by “natural phenomena” and not by small-scale sand mining, she said.

A coastal resident said it could not have been a natural occurrence since it was only happening in Sariaya’s coastline. The Tayabas Bay coastline is more than 100 kilometers long, from San Juan, Batangas, up to the tip of the Bondoc Peninsula area, he said.

The resident requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from village officials who supported the “natural phenomena” findings.

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