Gov orders review of quarry operations
BY GABRIEL CARDINOZA
The Manila Times
LINGAYEN, PANGASINAN: Gov. Ramon Guico 3rd has ordered a review of quarry operations in the province and urged operators to practice systematic sand and gravel extractions to protect the rivers. Guico observed that operators had not been quarrying properly, turning some stretches of the rivers into giant “sungka” boards. Sungka is a popular traditional game, which involves dropping small stones or shells into large holes on a long canoe-shaped wooden board. “There should be a quarrying methodology. They cannot quarry anywhere they want,” Guico said. Under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, permits for sand and gravel extractions for an area of five hectares and below are issued by the governor through the provincial mining regulatory board. For areas over five hectares, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issues the permit to an operator. Among the requirements before the issuance of a permit is an environmental compliance certificate, which sets the conditions in the quarry operation, such as limiting the extraction to a uniform depth of one meter from the original riverbed. Washing of quarry materials within the riverbed is also prohibited to avoid siltation and turbidity of water, and no stockpile shall be left at the riverbed during extraction to avoid obstruction of water flow. But Guico said that these are not followed by some quarry operators because he saw a crushing plant right in the middle of a river. Last week, Guico met with Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional director Socrates Gaerlan, who gave the governor an overview of the quarry operations in the province. Gaerlan said that Pangasinan used to have the highest revenue collections from sand and gravel extractions in Region 1 (Ilocos Region). But he said this is no longer the case now because since 2010, the province still charges P16 for every cubic meter of sand and gravel, while the other provinces in the region now collect from P25 to P30 per cubic meter. Guico also warned illegal quarry operators, saying they should stop their operations now to avoid legal consequences. A team from the provincial government’s environment and natural resources office had been inspecting different quarry sites in the province. “I don’t have the exact number of quarry operators. But there are many,” Guico said. He added that there is nothing wrong with many quarry operators as long as they do it properly for them to help desilt the rivers. In 2011, the MGB suspended quarry operations along the Bued River in San Fabian town for eroding farmlands and irrigation canals.