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Goma suspends SAG exportation

ORMOC CITY – Mayor Richard I. Gomez here is suspending the exportation of sand and gravel from Ormoc to other places, following reports of over extraction and ecological damage on its rivers.

Ormoc City is a major source of class “A” sand and gravel for construction in the country. It exports an estimated volume of 15,000 tons of SAG per week.

Mayor Gomez signed an executive order this week for “the conservation of quarry resources, suspending the acceptance of all new applications and renewals for sand and gravel permits, and the export of sand and gravel outside the jurisdiction of Ormoc City, and directing the implementation of rehabilitation plans of all existing sand and gravel permit areas.”

This, after the Mayor has had a dialogue with SAG operators many times and appealed to them to be responsible SAG operators. In these dialogues, he has also warned the operators that he might do something drastic if they ignore him.

“Kun magpalabas man ako ng mga prohibition, this is because you are doing this to yourselves,” he has repeatedly told them in a recent dialogue. “We are just regulators, it’s you who is causing your problems,” he said.  

Rafael Dumalan, city environment officer, said the EO takes effect on Monday, March 2, after notices about it are delivered to all SAG operators.

Initially, Mayor Gomez has already prohibited SAG operations and related activities on weekends and holidays. This is to give outlying communities relief from the noise, dust and murky waters that result from SAG operations.

Last Christmas, he also imposed a 15-day suspension, which overjoyed residents who posted on Facebook about how they enjoyed clear waters once more, and the peace and quiet from the daily grinding of boulders and stones.

Mayor Gomez said that the suspension was the result of a “long process”. He said that since 2017, his office has already been monitoring and regulating the SAG activities because of several adverse findings from the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB).

Despite due notice, the SAG operators have wantonly ignored his office’s warnings. It was also recently found out that the City has 16 crushing plants, only three of which have complete permits.

On April 30, 2019 yet, the MGB has issued a geohazard certification stating that the permitted areas along eight rivers in Ormoc are also flood prone. In an inspection of the said river systems, including a shared one with Albuera, Leyte, it was found out that National Irrigation Administration (NIA) constructed irrigation systems were badly damaged by the SAG operations. “The irrigation systems were interrupted when particular segments of the distribution canals were obstructed by flood debris, eroded bank materials and silt materials produced during SAG operations,” the report stated.

An independent study by Dr. Tess Tabada of the Visayas State University also bared that Omoc’s SAG’s income, which is Php 23 to Php 25-million a year, is only .97 percent of its total annual revenues. Violators of the EO will be penalized with a cancellation or revocation of their SAG permits. By EV Mail Editorial Team

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