TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), under the chairmanship of Acting Governor James S. Edduba, adopted and approved a resolution to blacklist extractors sourcing sand, gravel and other aggregates out of unpermitted quarry sites.
In a meeting on Thursday, city administrator Laurence Bayongan bemoaned the fact that the robust quarrying activities in Tabuk do not benefit the city’s coffers. Bayongan said that 9 percent of quarry resources in Kalinga are extracted out of Tabuk and the city is expected to rake in millions in revenue regularly. However, Bayongan said, Tabuk has largely been cheated out of its fair share of the quarrying industry’s profits. This prompted him to write a letter to the Provincial Treasury Office (PTO) demanding that a portion of the money collected from sand and gravel extractors be deducted and given to the local government unit of Tabuk.
In response, Richard Daliyong, representative of PTO-Kalinga, explained that PTO had adopted a measure wherein their office receives orders of payment from the Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) which will then be remitted to the LGUs after a month. In fact, last year, Tabuk City had been remitted around P700,000. Unfortunately, Daliyong revealed, the remittances stopped in 2017. But he said that for 2017, PTO will now adopt a measure wherein agencies will be requested to provide a program of work of their awarded projects which will show the volume of sand and gravel extracted. The said document will be used to determine the extractor’s bill of quantities.
Daliyong stressed the problem of rampant illegal quarrying activities in Kalinga. He said that most, if not all, quarrying activities in the province are illegal. This is largely because the process of obtaining permits is slow-moving and difficult and complying with requirements is a challenge to extractors. Daliyong urged the board to focus on creating measures to stop the proliferation of illegal quarrying operations in the province. He admitted that LGUs are at a loss on how to go after operators who do not comply with the law.
For his part, ENRO-Kalinga officer in charge Dominic Jude Sugguiyao, said that an ordinance titled ‘Regulating Quarry Operations in Kalinga’ is in the pipeline. He said the ordinance will cover social and environmental safeguards for quarrying operations. The ordinance may also consider deputizing barangay officials to monitor sand and gravel extractors.
In the end, it was Alfredo Genetiano, head of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR), who suggested that Kalinga follow the example of Ifugao in passing a resolution to DPWH to blacklist all extractors that source aggregates out of unpermitted quarry sites.
Genetiano also suggested humanizing the plights of the extractors by using a three-letter notice approach. The first letter of notice would encourage them to legalize their operations and only by the third letter would they be outrightly blacklisted for quarrying outside permitted areas. Genetia said that this way, there will be due process. The resolution was unanimously adopted and approved.
In order to facilitate the monitoring and regulating of quarry operations, PMRB-Kalinga adopted a draft resolution identifying potential quarry sites in Kalinga. The initial list includes 34 quarry sites – 4 in Tinglayan, 3 in Balbalan, 9 in Pinukpuk, 2 in Lubuagan, 2 in Pasil, and 14 in Tabuk City. The list will grow longer as more quarry sites are expected to be identified in the days to come.
At the latter part of the meeting came the discussion on the water analysis done on Chico River. Back in 2015, Tabuk City Mayor Ferdinand Tubban had requested the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) to test the water of Chico River because of alleged water pollution due to mining activities.
Genetiano noted that the findings of the EMB does not categorically state whether or not the amount of certain chemicals such as cyanide and mercury, among others, in water samples obtained from the river pass standard allowable limits. Ultimately, the board decided that ENRO will prepare a letter asking EMB to issue a categorical statement which will be presented in the next board meeting.
By Iryll Sicnao