DENR: Suspension on most quarry operations lifted; ban stays in Naga, Cebu

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lifted the suspension on “90 percent” of quarrying operations in the country, but kept the quarrying ban in a city in Cebu province where dozens of residents died from a landslide at the height of supertyphoon Ompong.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the suspension order on the remaining “10 percent,” which includes the operations of Apo Land Quarry Corp. in Naga City, stays.

“Ninety percent of quarry sites nationwide will resume operations, provided that these areas are one kilometer away from the communities that can potentially be affected,” Cimatu told a press conference on Thursday.

Cimatu 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.

He said that quarrying activities in Naga would remain suspended until further assessment.

Citing reports, Cimatu 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,” Cimatu explained.

Last week, Cimatu imposed a nationwide suspension on quarrying operations following the deadly Naga landslide. The latest death toll in that landslide is 65, with 21 people still missing and 18 injured.

Cimatu disclosed that 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 who will be affected in case of a landslide,” Cimatu pointed out.

Some of the companies spared from the ban are 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 landslide despite the presence of geohazard maps distributed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to local government units (LGUs).

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

Thus, Cimatu called on LGUs 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. ### 

  

Cimatu urges youth to join efforts to prevent biodiversity loss

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called on the Filipino youth to take part in the concerted effort to protect the country’s rich biological resources against destruction and loss.

Cimatu said the young people, who constitute a large part of the country’s population, could play an active role in protecting and improving the environment for their own future and that of the succeeding generations.

“The youth must do their share in protecting our environment, as it is the lifebloood providing us food, shelter, clothing, medicine and other ecological services essential to our survival,” Cimatu said in a speech read by DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones during the recently concluded ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes’ Forum held in Makati City.

Cimatu said the youth of today are in a better position to protect their future from environmental crises, including depletion of resources and biodiversity loss.

“No one will be forever in this Earth, but our actions as global citizens are indispensable in our battle to save the environment,” Cimatu told the audience, mostly students from St. Scholastica’s College, Araullo High School and Far Eastern University.

For her part, BMB Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez said everyone in the Philippines and the ASEAN has the “power and responsibility” to ensure that the gift of rich biological diversity is protected and sustainably used.

“We need everyone’s help and cooperation in ensuring that we are successful in our conservation efforts,” Rodriguez said. “We constantly need guidance and inspiration to continue our tasks.”

The symposium was the second leg of the ASEAN Biodiversity Forum, which featured ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes from Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The first leg was held in Vietnam and the third and final leg will be held in Brunei Darussalam later this year.

The forum aims to further increase public awareness on the values and conservation of biodiversity. It also seeks to inspire people to take action for biodiversity by sharing with them the noteworthy stories of ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, and promote awareness of the value of biodiversity among various audiences in the region.

Last year, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity recognized 10 biodiversity conservation advocates representing the grassroots, government, academic and business sectors during an awarding ceremony held in the country as part of the country’s hosting of the ASEAN Summit.

Former DENR Secretary and National Scientist Dr. Angel Alcala was named as among the 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes for his notable works in promoting the importance of coastal and marine resources protection.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Hero Award was designed to celebrate the heroism of oustanding individuals from ASEAN member states who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries. ### 

  

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