Amidst a strict lockdown triggered by a rapid rise in COVID-19 infection in Coron, Mayor Marjo Reyes cleared a quarrying operations that continued to operate and has become a subject of complaints among locals.
Reyes told Palawan News that the quarry operations is legal and has a valid permit, and is not in violation of their existing quarantine restrictions.
“Alam mo ang mga government project, sa protocol ay tuloy-tuloy. Totoong may naghahakot pero wala namang nasasagasaan na protocol. Kung illegal yan ay ako mismo ang magpapasara dyan, sasagutin ko lahat ng tungkol sa Coron,” he said.
Several local residents, including former senior provincial official Arthur Ventura, have criticized the quarrying operations in Coron in the middle of the pandemic crisis facing the town.
“Sagad na sagad at sobrang kasakiman na ito,” Ventura said in a Facebook post where he shared a photo of a backhoe atop a mountain quarry.
Earlier, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the closure of a quarry site for having no permit. The quarry material was being used in local government and provincial government projects.
In an earlier interview, the manager of the quarry project that was closed said they have long stopped their operation in compliance with the DENR order.
Mercado, however, claimed that the continuing quarry operation that was being complained about is a legal quarry site.
“Dalawa kasing quarry ‘yan, ‘yong isa nasa Lamud ay pagmamay-ari ng Tiotangco at may permit. Ang isa naman ay ang nasa Dipulao na pagmamay-ari ng munisipyo na pinasara ng DENR for the meantime dahil wala pang ECC. Kung ang gusto nilang alamin na may quary pa rin, naghahakot ng lupa ay mayron pero sa Lamud po ‘yan,” Mercado said.
He said that photos circulating online saying that there is quarry operation amid the pandemic is under the operation of Lamud quarry under the Tiotangcos.
CENRO Coron office Development management officer Pete Velasco earlier also told Palawan News that the reported continuing quarrying activity near the area is a valid operation by a contractor and is not covered by their notice of violation issued to the Dipulao quarry issued on November 23.
“Iyong kina-quarry-han nila ngayon ay may permit. Sa unahan ng Dipulao papuntang Lamud. Ang permit ay sa pangalan ni Tiotangco,” Velasco told Palawan News July 17.