CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has deployed two teams to inspect the quarry sites in the province with the use of drones to get the real conditions of areas affected by sand and gravel extractions.
The images and videos of the quarry sites would be assessed by the governor with the help of the Provincial Engineering Office, Provincial Planning and Development Office, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and consultants, including lawyer Rory Jon Sepulveda.
The governor also revealed that of the 74 quarry operators issued sand and gravel (SAG) permits by the Cebu Provincial Government, all but one are holding expired permits. Before Garcia ordered the suspension of SAG permits, the 73 operators had continued their illegal activities.
As to the evaluation of the quarry sites, Garcia said she will hold a meeting with the permittees, including those who are applying for extension of permits and new permits. The images, she said, will be shown to them.
“If there is a need for a rehabilitation, they should undertake that immediately.... And that’s the way it’s going to be. Regardless of dunay mga naalkansi sa negosyo (if there are people who would lose money in the business),” Garcia told reporters on Thursday, July 11, 2019.
In her earlier stint as governor, from 2004 until 2013, she had ordered a rehabilitation of Hinulawan River in Toledo City before she issued permits for quarry operators again.
Garcia said she received reports that the current quarry operations have placed the residents and properties at risk.
The governor also threw shade at the contractors who complained that their businesses have been affected by her suspension of the SAG permits.
“Mas naglisod ang way mga negosyo nga nagpuyo didto duol sa mga quarry sites nga kada magsugod og uwan, mokurog kay tingalig mag-landslide (In a world of trouble right now are those residents who don’t own businesses because they are living near the quarry sites, and when there is a downpour they tremble for fear of landslide),” Garcia said.
The governor has to deal with quarry operators who hold expired permits.
“Ang uban dugay na kaayo (Some licenses have expired for quite some time already),” Garcia said.
She said some quarry operators may have processed the renewal of their respective permits, but she could not understand why it took so long for them to gain renewed permits.
“Unsa man, duna pay kinahanglan mga cashabotan (Is there is still a need for a cash agreement) ?” Garcia said.
The other discovery unearthed by the Garcia administration: there are some companies issued industrial permits to extract minerals or ore deposits, but are selling gravel.
Garcia said her office discovered this fact after the police apprehended a gravel trader in southern Cebu.
The trader faced the governor at the Capitol in Cebu City and complained about the apprehension. The trader has been buying gravel from a company.
Garcia said she read the trader’s transport permit and found out that the latter is only allowed to transport ore.
She told the trader the truth.
“So, in other words, this company has not been paying the Province the proper taxes,” Garcia said in mixed Cebuano and English.
She recently learned that the Local Government Code stipulated that a local government unit can charge up to 10 percent of the market value.
The Province has lodged a complaint before the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7, urging the latter to check the companies issued industrial permits.
An operator of a small-scale commercial and manual quarry operation in an area below five hectares has to obtain a permit from the local government unit; MGB 7 issues the permit for a large-scale quarry operation in a land area over five hectares. (From SCG of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)