Tight monitoring of quarry operations in Davao ordered

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 May) – A number of quarries in the city are operating at night while others don’t have business permits prompting the local government to order a tighter monitoring of their activities, an official told reporters on Monday.

Workers of a manual sand mining operation ferry their wide hull boat along a portion of the Davao River in Barangay Waan, Davao City on Thursday (17 May 2018). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Councilor Danny Dayanghirang said that if this continues, the city stands to lose half of the potential revenues from quarry operations, which comprise 10% of the local budget.

Dayanghirang said this has prompted City Mayor Sara Duterte to direct the police and Task Force Davao to intensify their presence in communities that are hosting quarries and assist in the checkpoints of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

He said the mayor directed the CENRO to monitor the trucks coming in and out of the city to prevent the transport of sand and gravel.

He said this is a big challenge to the goal of the city to maintain environmental sustainability.

He said quarrying beyond the capacity of the rivers could worsen flooding because “the flow of water may come very fast.”

“Mayor Inday was alarmed last week about the extraction of sand and gravel because we noticed quarry operators are operating at nighttime where there was no collector, so you will see a lot of trucks bringing sand and gravel,” Dayanghirang said.

He said reinforcements from local authorities are necessary since most CENRO personnel tend to abandon the checkpoints due to threats posed by the presence of armed groups in host communities.

The official said the city has 53 registered quarry operators in Callawa, Mandug, Matina Pangi, Buhangin, and Paquibato areas while 64 new applicants were seeking approval by the city council.

He said four were rejected last week for failure to present environmental compliance certificates and non-compliance with other requirements.

“If we keep on allowing them, if you allow 117 quarry operators, can you just imagine how the 117, assuming they will be bringing in extracted materials everyday for a year, can cause problem on destruction of a road?” he said.

“I think the council will continue rejecting them… they cannot be granted any permits without passing the city council.,” he said.

He added that some of the applicants will be rejected by city council because their locations are not identified in the 2013 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance as fit for quarry operations.

“You put rules and you exempt it. It’s just like a spot zoning, you are not supposed to allow anything there. But if you allow it, what you are allowing is inconsistent to what is approved in the city council,” he said.

He said the city lacks an inventory of its natural resources, which would have helped it decide how much of its “natural resources are for disposal.”

He said the city council would likely reject the applications in the absence of such inventory. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)