DENR lifts quarry ban

September 28, 2018
Roy Cimatu

NINETY per cent of quarry sites nationwide will resume operations after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lifted their suspension.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, however, said that quarry operations can be resumed provided that these areas are one kilometer away from the communities that can potentially be affected.

Cimatu said that the quarrying ban against the Apo Land Quarry Corp. in Naga City, Cebu, where dozens of residents died from a landslide at the height of typhoon “Ompong,” will remain.

He said experts from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) were deployed to the landslide area in Naga to investigate the geohazard condition of the quarry site.

Cimatu added that quarrying activities in Naga  remain suspended until further assessment.

Citing reports, the DENR head said the Naga quarry  site was already there before the community was built.

“Isolated ‘yung quarry site dati, but naglipatan ‘yung community because of the workers, kaya naging vulnerable itong nasa Naga,” he said.

Last week, Cimatu ordered a nationwide suspension of quarrying operations following the deadly Naga landslide. The latest death toll in the landslide was 65, with 21 still missing and 18 injured.

Cimatu said he received a phone call from Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who warned that the quarrying suspension could raise prices of construction materials.

The DENR, he said, had already anticipated this possibility that’s why the suspension was only for a maximum of 15 days.

Following a thorough review, Cimatu said the DENR decided to allow mining firms in La Union, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, Batangas, Rizal, Camarines Sur, Misamis Oriental, Iligan City and Davao City to resume operations.

“There are no communities around quarry sites that will be affected in case of a landslide,” he said.

Some of the companies spared from the ban were the Holcim Mining and Development Corp., Northern Cement Corp., Republic Cement, Eagle Cement, Lafarge Holcim Aggregates Corp. and Orophil Stonecraft Corp.

There are a total of 65 quarry operators for limestone, sand and gravel across the country.

Cimatu lamented a study showing that most typhoon casualties come from landslides despite the presence of geohazard maps distributed by the DENR to local government units.

As for typhoon “Ompong,” the DENR found out that areas with landslide casualties were within “danger zones.”

Cimatu called on local government units to review the geohazard maps and use them as guide in preparing precautionary measures during calamities.    

“These maps can also serve as parameters for the declaration of no-building zones in municipalities if the proposed site is near a danger zone,” Cimatu added.

In case there are already buildings on areas declared as danger zones, Cimatu said forced evacuation is a must.