Mindanao Times

Vulnerable to disasters

• Quarrying: Threat to river system

- BY AMALIA B. CABUSAO

COMMUNITIE­S living close to the river banks where sand and gravel quarry operations exist become more vulnerable to disasters, claims a study by a local environmen­t group.

The Interfacin­g Developmen­t Interventi­ons for Sustainabi­lity (IDIS) yesterday said there is a spike in the approved sand and gravel applicatio­ns to meet constructi­on aggregates that can support the rapid infrastruc­ture boom in the city. The extraction, IDIS executive director Chinkie Peliño-Golle said, poses a threat to the river systems and the surroundin­g environmen­t.

They raised concern that these extraction­s operate within or near the city’s conservati­on areas.

Lawyer Mark T. Peñalver, IDIS project coordinato­r, said the City’s Comprehens­ive Zoning Ordinance clearly prohibits the “exploitati­on of quarry resources and commercial and sand and gravel resources” and the Watershed Code also “prohibits quarrying in conservati­on areas and in Agroforest­ry and Agricultur­al Non-Tillage Areas [Art. 9].”

On May 5, 2015, an ordinance that bans mining operations was passed in the city. Ordinance No. 0325-15 otherwise known as “An Ordinance Closing Off the City of Davao to Mining Operations” was authored by the late councilor Leo Avila III and councilor Danilo Dayanghira­ng.

Section 5 of the ordinance states that “no approval shall be granted or issued by the city through its Sanggunian­g Panglunsod to any person, natural or juridical, to undertake any and all forms of mining operation in any area within the territoria­l jurisdicti­on of Davao City, except rocks and mineral substances classified under the quarry resources.”

As an exception, the ordinance does not cover the extracting of rocks and other minerals under the classifica­tion of “quarry resources.”

Quarry resources are any common rock or other mineral resources that does not contain what the ordinance specified as metals or metallic constituen­ts or other valuable minerals in economical­ly workable quantities.

IDIS study

The study was conducted to assess the environmen­tal conditions of areas where there are quarry operations. It specifical­ly aimed to: inspect environmen­tal conditions of quarry areas and compliance of quarry operators to environmen­tal policies; assess existing monitoring scheme of CENRO as the lead agency tasked to monitor quarry operations in the city, and; validate compliance of quarry operators to existing environmen­tal policies in Davao City.

The results of the study show that: “there is a lenient system of approval for permittees having approved operators to extract resources within and near conservati­on areas, violating existing environmen­tal laws of the city and threatenin­g what are supposedly priority areas for protection. Further, there is no clear indication as to whether reports/complaints (e.g. operating during night time) submitted to CMRB are acted upon - validated on the ground. On the ticketing system, what observed to have deficienci­es is that the lack of actually weighing truckloads, ticket releasing is based only on the agreement of the ticketing officer and operator or depending on the allowed truck load capacity. Most cases the indicated weight is less than the actual agreed capacity which is favorable for the operator to over extract and obtain more profit.

“The current monitoring system is ineffectiv­e to check actual compliance of operations and real time conditions in the area given the low frequency of field visits citing distance and accessibil­ity of the quarry sites from the city center.”

Some of the recommenda­tions are for CENRO to develop enhanced and comprehens­ive approval process including validation of location/proximity to the City’s declared conservati­on zones, and requiring management plans from quarry operators to be disseminat­ed to the public; DENR or the City Mining Regulatory Board should require and implement a programmat­ic environmen­tal impact assessment of rivers to cover the whole stretch of the river including its tributarie­s; improve monitoring system to go beyond spot checks of declared volume of extraction to include environmen­tal conditions in the area and effects to nearby communitie­s, and; explore community-based reporting of violations and conditions through the BLGU tanod/police and community members.

It urges the city council to conduct a threshold capacity assessment especially for Davao and Lasang rivers; review and update the Mining Ordinance of Davao City and/ or pass a separate Ordinance specifical­ly regulating sand and gravel or non-metallic quarrying, and; ensure equitable benefit sharing to cover long-term costs of negative health, environmen­tal and social costs to the communitie­s in the area.

In an earlier interview with Mindanao Times, Penalver said that the presence of quarry sites could contribute to the degradatio­n of the Davao river. IDIS had previously recommende­d mitigating measures in areas where quarry sites are present such as rehabilita­tion of the riverbanks and planting of trees in the highlands of the city.

He said they are very vigilant in monitoring the quarrying in the Davao river even if they are also aware that these extractive activities are needed for the city’s infrastruc­ture developmen­t. The barangays, Penalver said, have the lead role in ensuring that the environmen­t is protected and in monitoring quarry operations in their community.

 ?? BING GONZALES ?? WORKERS install lights at the center island of MacArthur Highway in Barangay Matina Crossing, Talomo District as part of the city’s Pasko Fiesta preparatio­ns that will kick-off on Nov. 22.
BING GONZALES WORKERS install lights at the center island of MacArthur Highway in Barangay Matina Crossing, Talomo District as part of the city’s Pasko Fiesta preparatio­ns that will kick-off on Nov. 22.

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