The Leyte provincial board’s committee on environment and natural resources will conduct another round of public hearing on the proposed ban on the shipment of sand and gravel (SAG) extracted in the province.
Committee chair, Leyte 4th District board member Mesias Arevalo said there is a need for a second hearing after they found out that the residents of Albuera town and Ormoc City are not the only ones who have been complaining about the destruction of some roads, but also those in other areas with ongoing SAG extraction.
Among these areas are Tabontabon town and Baybay City.
“The majority of our permittees and stakeholders who attended agreed (during the public hearing). We have to control the damage this has caused and set limitations for our concessionaires or contractors to show us their programs of work so we would know the volume of minerals they need from our sources,” Arevalo told reporters on Monday.
Tabontabon Mayor Efren Redoña suggested to the provincial board to consider imposing limitations on the carrying capacity for trucks that haul sand and gravel.
“Some trucks (loads) are carrying 25 cubic meters, but our roads’ carrying capacity is only for 15 cubic meters,” Redoña said during the first hearing on Friday.
Baybay City Vice Mayor Ernesto Butawan said local governments should impose higher fees on sand and gravel extraction to finance rehabilitation activities.
“The fees that we have collected outweigh the potential damage to the environment. We should look at our charges. We may also put additional charges for the repair and maintenance for the damaged roads,” Butawan said.
Of the 34 active SAG extractors with permits, the province only earned PHP22 million out of the potential PHP40 million revenue in 2019.
The Leyte police provincial office told board members that their hands are tied in apprehending illegal SAG activities because they are not deputized by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
Eduardo Tan, chief geologist of MGB regional office here, admitted that there were violations of the environmental law committed by 28 SAG concessionaires.
“They have extracted more than what is specified… There are many violations of what has been stated on their Environmental Compliance Certificate. There is environmental damage, scouring of riverbanks, land areas reduced, and we should require embankment for protection in some areas,” he said during the hearing.
The legislators initiated the public hearing after receiving reports of regular shipments of SAG from Leyte to Cebu and Bohol.
Arevalo said at least six to 10 barges of extracted Class A sand and gravel are being shipped out of the province a day.
“Based on the information we received, the aggregates quarried in Albuera town are brought by barges to Cebu and Bohol for their construction requirement,” Arevalo said.
At least six to 10 barges of extracted Class A sand and gravel are being shipped out of the province a day, according to the official.
On Feb. 28, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez banned the shipping, transporting, or carrying of any sand and gravel material through the issuance of an executive order.
Executive Order 17-A also suspends the acceptance of all new applications and renewals for sand and gravel permits. (PNA)