P1M fine eyed for illegal quarry

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia (SunStar File)
Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia (SunStar File)

THOSE involved in unregulated and illegal sand and gravel activities in Cebu Province can face up to P1 million in penalties, as well as have their vehicles impounded.

This was announced by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

She said she hopes this will deter frequent violators.

In a live video posted by the social media arm of the Capitol’s Public Information Office, Garcia said the proposed amount is a “significant” increase from the current penalty for fifth-time offenders.

She said the new penalties will be reflected in the Province’s amended Revenue Code.

This will include a six-month suspension of permits for fourth-time offenders.

On Thursday, the governor met with sand and gravel operators at the Capitol to inform them of the upcoming changes.

Garcia said the Provincial Government has been observing and monitoring operators for about four years in which it has discovered patterns of suspicious and illegal activities.

She said she has even come across operators who are frequent violators.

“Kana man gud madakpan mo og kausa, sala na ninyo kay nagpadakop mo. Madakpan mo og kaduha, sa gihapon ninyo. Pero ig abot sa ika-upat, ikalima, sala na namo kay wala mi gihimo kay balik-balik na man, nahimo na man nga kustombre,” Garcia said.

(It’s your fault for getting caught the first time around. The same goes for the second time. But when you are caught four or five times, then it becomes our fault for doing nothing to stop the practice, which has become your custom.)

The governor said current penalty grades no longer deter illegal quarrying activities.

“Dili na man kaayo sakit ang bayranan kay mas dako man ang kita sa ilegal (The penalty is outweighed by the big income from the illegal activity),” she said.

She said operators have been earning significant profits by not complying with the Province’s policies, which include regulatory fees for businesses engaged in the industry.

In the same meeting, Rodel Bontuyan, head of the Cebu Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources Office, said that most violations, aside from lack of documentary permits, were illegal excavation of sand and gravel from the riverbed, over-stockpiling of illegally sourced sands, and unaccounted quantity of extracted

quarry materials.

Garcia said the proposed adjusted penalties and fines will be endorsed to the Provincial Board for legislative action, and will be certified as urgent.

She urged operators to cooperate with the Provincial Government, and warned them of repercussions.

Section 198 of the Revenue Code of Cebu of 2008 imposes a fine of P10,000 for each of the following violations: illegal transport of quarry and mineral resources with invalid or without permit; extracting quarry or mineral resources outside of permit area; buying and selling of illegally sourced quarry and mineral resources; over-extraction; buying, selling, recycling and misuse of permits for transport, delivery and hauling; unaccredited processor, trader, hauler, dealer, or retailers of quarry materials; and obstructing authorities conducting lawful inspection of quarry materials.

The Provincial Government also confiscates illegally sourced minerals or products.

It also authorizes the municipal treasure or his representatives to conduct lawful inspections, impound vehicles, and seize illegally sourced materials.

Meanwhile, Garcia acknowledged the contribution of the industry to the Capitol coffers, as it continues to increase from only P97 million in 2019 to P628 million in 2023.

Bontuyan said that the Province collected P128 million in 2020, P303 million in 2021, and P396 million in 2022.

Garcia said this helped fund various infrastructure projects, including opening and concreting of provincial and barangay roads.

She said about 800 kilometers of provincial and barangay roads have already been widened and concreted, costing the Provincial Government more than P3 billion. / EHP


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