The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has stopped a large-scale quarrying operation in Coron that has been cutting a large swath of mountain as filling materials for a reclamation project and several government infrastructure projects.
A local DENR official told Palawan News a notice of violation (NOV) on the project was issued by their Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), prompting them to stop the quarrying activities.
Development Management Officer (DMO) Pete Velasco of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) said that they have ordered the contractor of the project undertaking the quarrying activities to stop their operations.
“Bale nagsulat kami sa kanila nang dalawa noong May pa. Ngayon lang, kinausap na lang namin sila na huminto. Nag-issue rin ang EMB ng notice of violation noong June 23,” Velasco told Palawan News.
Joint government projects
Velasco told Palawan News that the quarry materials are being utilized for an ongoing reclamation project of the provincial government and several infrastructure projects of the municipal government.
“Dalawa ang tinatambakan diyan. Isa ‘yong sa project ni Gob [JCA], ‘yong Coron Bay Development Project, at ‘yong isa, ‘yong para sa public market na project naman ng LGU,” Velasco said.
However, upon confirming with Provincial Information Officer Winston Arzaga if this was indeed a project of the current provincial administration, he said that to his knowledge, it is a project of the Coron local government unit (LGU).
“Wala kaming feedback doon. Project daw iyon ng LGU Coron. Malaking project daw ‘yon. Actually, alam ko LGU ‘yon, eh, ‘di ko alam, wala akong info doon,” Arzaga told Palawan News.
“Pero alam ni Mayor [Mario T. Reyes] ‘yan. Alam niya ‘yan,” he added.
Palawan News has so far been unable to reach the office of Mayor Reyes. However, a councilor has told Palawan News that the project did not go through the Sangguniang Bayan of Coron.
Luchie Cabantoy, Coron municipal councilor and chair of the Sangguniang Bayan’s committee on infrastructure, told Palawan News that the quarrying activity has no permit issued by either the DENR or the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), including an environmental compliance certificate.
“Alam naman natin na kahit government project ‘yan ay dapat dumadaan ‘sa tamang proseso. Dapat may matatanggap kami na document from the barangay and others for the endorsement. But, being a chairman of the committee on infrastructure ay wala pa kaming nare-receive na documents from the project. Sa level ng Sangguniang bayan ay wala pa rin pero hindi ko lang sigurado kung may advance silang binigay sa Mayor’s Office,” Cabantoy said.
The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), which issues a special clearance to all major development projects in Palawan, also confirmed that the quarrying activity was being utilized for the ongoing reclamation project.
PCSD spokesperson Jovic Fabello, in an interview with Palawan News on July 6, noted that the private contractors undertaking the quarrying have no permits.
“Wala ngang mga papeles ang contractor ng quarry, pero sa ngayon pino-proseso na nila. Iyong Dipulao na quarrying, doon kinukuha ang panambak para sa reclamation site sa town proper,” Fabello said.
Fabello did not explain why the project was allowed by the PCSD to go on without securing the proper permits.
Asked who are the contractors involved in the project, Velasco stated:
“Basta ang isa, Mercado ang may-ari. ‘Yong isa naman, BCT name ng company. Hindi ko alam ang ibig sabihin ng BCT,” said Velasco.