Provincial board member Glenn Peduche (2nd district) told MindaNews they have investigated sand and gravel quarrying operations along the river following complaints by villagers in three barangays.
But Peduche declined to name the i quarry firms as the probe, which they started on Feb. 18, is still pending.
He said the provincial government might be forced to order a temporary closure of the quarrying operations along the river to enforce the law and protect the interests of the farmers.
He said if operators refuse to comply with regulations, the authorities are likely to cancel quarry permits. Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. told MindaNews earlier the province is no place for large scale mining but open for quarrying and small scale mining operations.
Peduche said the quarry operators have been found to have violated environmental protection measures stated in ECCs or environmental compliance certificates.
He said quarry operators leave waste rocks in the middle of Pulangui River affecting its flow, especially during heavy rains.
The complaint emanated from barangays Sto. Niño (Malaybalay City), San Isidro and Nabag-o (Valencia City) where over a thousand hectares of farmlands are expected to lose irrigation because of the problem, Perduche said.
Peduche, who chairs the provincial board's committee on environment, is also head of the provincial multi-partite monitoring team (MMT).
He said a joint team from the MMT, Bukidnon Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO) and National Irrigation Administration initiated the investigation in a dialogue with officials from the three barangays on Monday.
Peduche said they are calling a dialogue next week with major stakeholders in the quarrying industry, including quarry permit holders and 20 barangay captains in the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia and in Maramag and Quezon towns.
He clarified that the permit holders are those who own the lands where quarry mines are made. The quarry operators, on the other hand, are the businessmen who run heavy equipment to drill and mine, he said.
Peduche last week told MindaNews they have monitored that most ECC holders in the province are violators.
But he still refused to name the violators among 13 companies that hold 33 ECCs issued in the province as of 2007. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)