The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has created a team that will look into the massive flood that submerged many areas in Metro Manila last month.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, deputy spokesman of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, said the probers composed of representatives of concerned bureaus and agencies of the DENR, such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Environmental Management Bureau, Forest Management Bureau, DENR Region 4A and local government units (LGUs) of Rizal, Tanay and Rodriguez, Rizal, will look into the reason behind the flooding.
The flooding prompted the DENR chief to suspend the quarrying operations in Rizal province.
In a telephone interview, Antiporda, also the DENR’s undersecretary for solid-waste management and LGUs, said the team will determine whether the quarrying operations in the province, or whether those that operate under the permits issued by the DENR-MGB or concerned LGUs, should be discontinued for good.
“Right now, all quarrying operations in the province are suspended. But what we want to know is whether the quarrying operation is really to blame for the flood. If the quarrying operation is the reason, then the DENR secretary might call for the stoppage of the operations for good,” Antiporda said in a mix of English and Filipino.
To recall, Cimatu stopped all quarrying operations in Rizal province after residents of Marikina blamed the overflowing of the already silted Marikina River to the environmental degradation brought about by unhampered quarrying operations.
But Antiporda said quarry operations in Rizal need to be inventoried, first and foremost.
“As far as the DENR is concerned, there are only three quarrying operations in Rizal. We still don’t know how many quarrying operations are with permits issued by the LGUs,” he added.
Quarrying is normally used to extract raw materials for cement. Quarrying for rocks, on the other hand, is for the production of gravel, which is needed by the construction industry.
The DENR official is cautious that ordering to stop the quarrying operation may eventually affect the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
Quarrying is done through surface or open-pit mining method. The DENR has imposed a ban on prospective open-pit mining method for select ores, like gold, copper, silver and complex ore, but exempted other projects using a similar method of extraction, such as nickel and quarrying.