THE Barangay Tina-an, Naga City incident made headlines here and even abroad. What used to be a living community turned into a graveyard as soil and rocks swallowed it. Displaced families could only cite one reason for the tragedy: the nearby quarry operation.
Is quarrying allowed near the residential areas? Is this incident a wake-up call to end all quarry operations in the Philippines?
Section 19 (b) of Republic Act 7942, otherwise known as the “Philippine Mining Act of 1995,” states that no mineral agreement shall be allowed “near or under public or private buildings, archaeological and historic sites, bridges, highways, waterways, railroads, reservoirs, dams or other infrastructure projects, public or private works including plantations or valuable crops except upon written consent of the government agency or private entity concerned.” (www.lawphil.net)
Only after the incident was it noted that the community where the victims used to live in was close to the quarried grounds. Is this a sign of negligence by the authorities who surveyed the area before quarrying was allowed?
In 2015, the United Nations came up with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are to be achieved in 2030. One of these is environmental protection. Since we are still in 2018, we still have more than one decade to get a positive result on the matter in the 2030 assessment.
Nonetheless, the incident shows how challenging it can be to attain the goal of environmental protection with these negligent authorities in our country. By understanding the full story in the Naga incident, one can say that nature’s wrath is to be expected in return for people’s wrong acts.
According to former Environment secretary Gina Lopez, what humans need is clean air and water, yet people are still digging our lands for natural resources. Lopez is an epitome of a leader who genuinely wants to attain development without risking our own natural resources.
Leaders like her should be given the chance to serve the government, as she has a clear purpose of serving both the people and the environment.
After the landslide in the City of Naga, some people pointed out that what happened was a conspiracy and a result of negligence. However, a government agency claimed that quarrying was not the reason why the landslide happened.
Government still has more than a decade to use the country’s environment and natural resources appropriately, to encourage the various sectors to help in protecting the environment and to avoid or strictly monitor destructive activities like mining.
To say that the quarrying in the City of Naga is legal is not enough. Monitoring by concerned government agencies as well as civic organizations is needed.
For now, the City of Naga landslide is still a hot issue in our country. But won’t this be forgotten as time goes by? Why wait for these incidents to happen before we change? (Robert John Medida and Destinee Nor)