An ordinance banning the extraction, collection, and sale of sand, pebbles, and other similar resources from the beaches of Puerto Princesa was proposed Monday at the City Council.
Councilor Roy Gregorio Ventura, its author, told Palawan News on Tuesday that this ordinance is aimed at preserving the beauty and healthy ecology of the city.
“Merong mga ipinaabot sa ating mga information noong mga nakaraang taon pa na sa ibang lugar ipinagbabawal nila ang pagkuha ng mga kahit pebbles o buhangin upang dalhin sa ibang lugar. Kahit pa small volume lang ‘yan o parang souvenir lang siya,” Ventura said in a phone interview.
Ventura said he refiled this ordinance because the previous City Council was not able to finish tackling it towards approval.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to collect, extract and sell sand, pebbles, and other similar resources from any beach within the territorial jurisdiction of Puerto Princesa for any purpose,” Ventura noted in his proposed ordinance.
Penalties for violations
This proposed ordinance has an attached penalty for each violation and varies depending on the number of times it was violated.
Penalties are classified into two categories, namely penalties toward an individual and penalties for establishments or a person in government position.
Any person violating this ordinance for the first time shall be fined P1,000 while juridical persons, hotels, resorts, or other business establishments will be fined with P2,000.
For the second offense, an individual will be fined P2,500 and P,3,000 for the juridical persons, hotels, resorts, or other business establishments. On the second offense, the business permits and licenses officer of the city may order suspension or revocation of their licenses and permits.
Caught on the third offense, P5,000 or imprisonment of one to six months, or both, depending upon the discretion of the court, shall be imposed upon a violator.
On the other hand, juridical persons, hotels, resorts, or other business establishments that will commit this violation for the third time shall be fined P5,000. If the offender’s business permits and licenses were not yet suspended, the licenses and permits officer may finally order the revocation.
Aside from the imposed penalties for the third violation, the owner shall face a separate fine of P,5000 or imprisonment of one to six months, or both, depending upon the discretion of the court.
Any violator willing to pay his penalties monetarily in order to avoid being prosecuted within 24 hours may pay his fines at the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO), otherwise the case shall be prosecuted. However, this provision is available only for the first offense and not on the succeeding offenses.
Ordinance also aims to restore the extracted resources
While the violators are to be imposed with necessary penalties, the sand, pebbles, or other similar resources that have been extracted, collected, or sold, shall be returned to the same beach it was taken from.
The document noted this restoration will be imposed at the expense of the violator.
“Mere possession of sand, pebbles, or other similar resources shall be presumed extracted from the beaches within the territorial jurisdiction of Puerto Princesa and shall be considered prima facie evidence of extraction,” Ventura indicated in the document of his proposed ordinance emphasizing the prohibition of privately owning these loose rock aggregates.
Ventura proposed that the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) be the authorized agency to implement this ordinance.
He also added this proposed ordinance was already referred to the Committee on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources (EPNR).
Ventura said a public hearing will still be conducted prior to its second reading.
“Ipa-public hearing pa ‘yan, tatawag tayo ng public hearing para marinig natin ‘yong boses ng ating mga mamamayan patungkol diyan. Hihintayin natin ‘yong iba pang opinions ‘pag nagkaroon tayo ng public hearings,’’ said Ventura.