Illegal quarying back in Banahaw | Inquirer News
ENVIRONMENT

Illegal quarying back in Banahaw

By: - Correspondent / @dtmallarijrINQ
/ 01:21 AM October 17, 2016

LUCENA CITY—Illegal quarrying is back in Mt. Banahaw in Sariaya town in Quezon province, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

“The pockets of quarry holes look like ‘sungka.’ This is frightening because this poses grave danger to the local community,” Environment Undersecretary Arturo Valdez, head of National Anti-Environmental Crime Task Force, said in a phone interview on Friday.

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Acting on the order of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, Valdez led a team from the DENR, military, police and other government agencies that stopped the operations of 15 quarry permit holders. Their environmental compliance certificates (ECC) were cancelled by the DENR on Tuesday.

“We’re enforcing the ECC cancellation of quarries that have operated beyond their legal mandate because of violation of the ECC. They have to stop operations,” he said.

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Webster Letargo, Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) vice chair, said his office welcomes the participation of national government agencies in purging the ranks of quarry operators.

One goal

“We all share the same goal: to protect and preserve our natural resources,” Letargo said.

Mining activities in the province are under the control and supervision of PMRB.

Letargo said PMRB has not been remiss in its duties to regulate quarry operations.

Legal and illegal quarrying activities thrive in the villages of Sampaloc II, Sto. Cristo, Tumbaga, Canda, Limbon, and Castañas, situated on the banks of the Janagdong and Lagnas rivers.

“Unlawful mining operations have already trespassed on the boundary of the protected area at the base of Banahaw,” Valdez said.

The local government of Sariaya has been limiting quarry operations to the river bed as part of its flood control program.

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Illegal quarry operators, however, entice owners of low-yielding farms, particularly coconut plantations, to sell them their land, which they would turn as quarry sites.

Valdez said the piles of boulders at the base of Banahaw posed serious danger to residents of Sariaya in the event of continuous and heavy rain.

Fatal past

At the height of Typhoon “Santi” in 2009, two persons drowned in a mining site in Barangay Sto. Cristo when they slid into a quarry hole.

The Lagnas Bridge connecting the Maharlika Highway collapsed at the height of Typhoon “Rosing” in 1995 due to strong river current.

Operators of rock crushing plants in Sariaya protested their inclusion in the DENR operation.

Cerilo Cinco, president of the Sariaya Rock Crushers Association, said the government team held at least eight of their haulers.

“We’re not quarry operators. We’re just processors,” Cinco said.

Valdez said the trucks will be released. However, he warned owners of rock crushing plants that they face criminal charges if they buy materials from illegal quarry operators.

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TAGS: Department of Environment and Natural Resources, illegal quarrying, Mt. Banahaw, Philippine news updates
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