Apo Land ordered to stop Naga quarrying
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) in the City of Naga has issued a temporary environmental protection order (Tepo) against Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC), directing the owners of the mining firm to refrain from conducting any further operations.
The Tepo was granted two days after lawyers led by Benjamin Cabrido filed a P4.5 billion class suit against ALQC, its sister company Cemex Philippines, the City of Naga, the Provincial Government and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
“There’s no time to rejoice. A lot of work is still ahead,” Cabrido told SunStar Cebu.
But ALQC corporate communications and public affairs director Chito Maniago said their operations have been suspended since the landslide struck Sitio Sindulan in Barangay Tina-an last Sept. 20.
RTC Branch 76 Assisting Judge Dennis Larrobis said the Tepo will cover seven mining production sharing agreements issued to ALQC allowing the firm to quarry in the City of Naga.
Larrobis approved the Tepo in view of the “continuing threats to life and health of the inhabitants of the City of Naga and more directly to the workers of ALQC.”
He also agreed that there is “extreme urgency” to issue the Tepo after more cracks were found on the ground in Barangays Tina-an, Naalad, Inoburan, Mainit and Cabungahan, which could cause soil erosion.
Maniago told SunStar Cebu they received a copy of the Tepo around 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9.
Contrary to the complainants’ belief, he said the firm stopped quarry operations in the city after it received cease-and-desist orders from the MGB.
ALQC’s lawyers and the landslide victims are set to meet in Larrobis’ sala to determine if there is a need to extend the Tepo.
In their petition, the landslide victims sought the issuance of a Tepo against ALQC to extend the administrative suspension issued by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu against the firm.
Last Sept. 21, Cimatu suspended quarrying operations for 15 days in eight regions, including Central Visayas, following the deadly Sindulan landslide. But eight large-scale quarry operators and 15 industrial sand and gravel operators in Central Visayas are back to their regular operations after they were given clearance by the MGB 7 last month.
“This administrative suspension order may be short-lived as most of the quarry firms suspended along with Apo Land are now back in business as usual after a brief 15-day lull of operations,” the petition said.