City Gov’t mulls possible lifting of quarry moratorium

Yellow trucks and equipment either owned by provincial or municipal government are reportedly seen loading and hauling gravel and sand from areas in Palawan without necessary permit.

The City Government of Puerto Princesa will soon decide on the possible lifting of the current moratorium on local quarry operations, pending results of a potential two-week study that will be conducted by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

In today’s meeting of the Committee on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources chaired by City Councilor Modesto “Jonjie” Rodriguez, it was decided that a study will be conducted to determine if there is really a need to amend City Ordinance 463 which in 2010 declared some areas in the city as closed to quarry operations.

Rodriguez said that the potential amendment to the moratorium has been lodged before the Sangguniang Panlungsod by three quarry applicants in 2014 and the Palawan Constructors Association, Inc. (PALCAI) due to an emerging scarcity in the local supply of gravel and sand and other quarry materials, which has saddled both local contractors and the government.

“Sa ngayon ang quarry materials nila ay galing pa sa munisipyo. Kapag galing sa munisipyo malayo ang travel at nagdadagdag sa cost. Kapag ganun, ang mga naapektuhan ay mga kababayan natin na nagpapagawa ng mga bahay kasi tumataas ang cost ng kanilang materials,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said that his committee needs to get first the opinion of the City ENRO and City Planning Office before they could decide on the request. He added that the request seems valid considering the fast-paced development of Puerto Princesa City.

According to Atty. Carlo Gomez, head of City ENRO, they will finish the study in two weeks, which will then serve as reference of the City Council in crafting a decision on the matter.

Last week, the City Government has decided to lift the quarry moratorium in Brgy. Sta. Lourdes because of the need to supply materials for the on-going construction of the airport. Among the areas in the city, materials from Sta. Lourdes, specifically in Sitio Magarwak, have passed the standard for airport construction.

The present 20-year moratorium was implemented in 2010 by the City Government following verification that the river quarry sites in Barangays Kamuning and Inagawan, and at Inagawan Subcolony and Sitio Magarwak, have seriously suffered due to rampant gravel and sand gathering. No permits for new quarry operations in the said areas have been issued since then. However, those with existing quarry permits were allowed to finish the terms and conditions of their contracts.

On August 29, 2016 the issue on the dwindling supply of gravel and sand and other quarry materials in the province was also raised by PALCAI to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and was affirmed by the heads of the DPWH engineering districts in Palawan.

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