The provincial government has found out that 57 out of 87 quarries across Bohol have been operating illegally, prompting Governor Arthur Yap to impose a province-wide suspension of quarry activities pending a legal compliance audit.
Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Nilo Ahat said that data gathered from all of Bohol’s barangays showed that 87 quarries were operating in the province but records from the Bohol Environmental Management Bureau (BEMO) indicated that only 30 quarries were given permits to operate.
“Part ni sa pag-assume ni governor niadtong July, gusto siya makahibaw og pilay quarry operations sa Bohol so gipadad-an og circular ang mga barangays and by end of July nigawas tong mga report, gi-consolidate…gi-crosscheck with record of the BEMO,” he said.
According to Ahat, Yap ordered the suspension of mining operations through Executive Order No. 4 on September 12 after finding out that more quarries were illegal than those which have permits.
The order also created the Environmental Protection Task Force to implement the suspension and conduct a legal compliance audit.
Ahat said on Friday last week that the audit on quarries with permits was scheduled to end on the day and those found to have full legal compliance will be issued clearances this week and allowed to resume operations.
Illegal quarries on the other hand will be subjected to auditing next week.
“Kadtong 57 na mga way permit, na illegal, maghimo ta og individual profiling per site ug kuhaon nato ang mga possible data ug kinsa ang mga land owner ana, kinsa operator ug unsy gikak-on,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is awaiting the resumption of quarry operations as some of its road projects were suspended due to lack of embankment materials particularly weathered limestone, locally known as “anapog,” which they source locally.
DPWH first district chief Engr. Francis Flores said that “more or less” 10 road projects under his area of responsibility including the segment concreting of JA Clarin Street, one of Tagbilaran City’s main thoroughfares, were affected by the temporary shutdown of quarries in the province.
He however clarified that road projects wherein embankment phases have been completed were not affected as only limestone and other embankment materials were sourced from local quarries.
According to Flores, they have been in coordination with the BEMO which also recognized the DPWH’s needs for their projects.
“Mao ila pud gi-balanse para ma-facilitate pud tong sa permits, mga gipang-require ilang gipaspasan,” he said.
In his “First 100 Days” report, Yap admitted that crippling quarry operations in the province would lead to cost increase for infrastructure projects such as road construction but deemed the suspension necessary to monitor the “use and exploitation” of natural ground resources.
“There will also be an impact on all the roads we went to build. All the costs will start shooting up. So we balance. We suspend because we want to monitor and we want to know who in those operations are paying the right taxes,” he said. (A. Doydora)