The ill-fated quarry in Anda town where two abrupt landslides claimed the lives of four men in a span of over six years, including two who were found dead Wednesday, has been operating illegally.
This was confirmed by Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II on Tuesday while retrieval operations for the remains of quarry workers Valerio Galeya and Ariel Abac were ongoing.
The lifeless bodies of both men were dug out from mounds of eroded soil and rock fragments in Sitio San Isidro in Barangay Candabong by rescuers yesterday morning.
According to Damalerio, the quarry operation which has been intermittently ongoing for a decade lacked permits and clearances from both municipal and provincial authorities and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
“Illegal kay wa may permit, wa na aplayi nila kay matod pa lagi nila ug sa taga lungsod, ni acting mayor nga aplayan unta sauna nila pero lisod ang process anang mining claim,” said Damalerio.
“Mohatag mi’g permit basta kompleto sa ubos gikan sa PMRB [Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board] clearance, barangay resolution, Sangguniang Barangay resolution basta kompleto nang tanan hasta ECC [Environmental Compliance Certificates],” he added.
Families of quarry workers in the sitio admitted to being aware of the hazards involved in the limestone extraction at the site based on on-site inquiries carried out by authorities.
However, quarrying in the area has been the only livelihood available to some of the residents who noted that they worked amid dangerous conditions out of necessity.
“Admitido man na nila even ang mga tawo didto pag-imbestigar namo gahapon nga ‘wa man mi gibasol nga namatay among igsoon pero panginabuhi man gud namo ni,’ mi-ingon sila,” Damalerio said.
Meanwhile, Governor Edgar Chatto called for an inquiry into the quarry operation in the area which has led to the death of already four men including a minor in less than a decade.
According to Damalerio, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in coordination with the MGB is also set to conduct a probe on the illegal quarrying in Sitio San Isidro.
This is intended to pinpoint those liable for the fatal incident, he added.
Damalerio also debunked rumors which indicated that the quarry is owned by the mayor of Anda.
He said that the quarry was already shut down in the past and fences were put up but residents tore these down and managed to continue operations without detection. (Rey Tutas)