South Cot governor stops quarry permits

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 October) – South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. ordered the stoppage of the issuance of special permits for quarry operations in the province following an accident in a quarry site in Polomolok town last weekend that killed a teenage worker.

Pingoy said Thursday he also directed the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) to evaluate the compliance to basic safety standards of existing quarry operations within the province’s 10 towns and lone city and look deeper into last week’s incident.

“We will no longer issue any special permit. All applications for quarry operations will be processed for regular permits and will be carefully scrutinized in terms of their compliance to safety requirements,” he said.

The governor, who co-chairs the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), said the local government will immediately issue a stoppage and closure order for quarry sites and operations that would fail the safety evaluation.

The PMRB regulates the operations of quarry operations and small-scale mining activities within the province.

Quarry worker Alvedaic Bola, 15, was killed on Saturday following a landslide at a quarry site in Barangay Poblacion in Polomolok town.

The victim was reportedly resting at a portion of the quarry site in Purok Balabat when a nearby cliff collapsed on him.

The municipal government of Polomolok has already launched an investigation on the incident and the reported employment of the victim, who is a minor, at the quarry site.

Siegfred Flaviano, acting PEMO chief, said they have also started a separate investigation into the incident and an evaluation of the safety conditions of the quarry site.

He said the quarry site may face permanent closure if the operators would be found violating any of the safety standards that were set by the provincial government.

Flaviano said they are currently monitoring and evaluating the operations of other existing quarry sites in the province as ordered by the governor.

“We’re specifically reviewing their compliance to the safety standards and other local government regulations of the operators and whether the quarry sites are still safe to work on,” he said.

To ensure the proper regulation of quarry operations, Flaviano said they are looking at the possibility of establishing a common quarry site in each of the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

He said such move will enable PEMO personnel to easily monitor the quarry operations and impose the necessary regulations to the operators. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)