A composite team of experts led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been created to investigate the alleged quarrying operations around Mayon Volcano that may have caused the mudflow or lahar during the onslaught of super typhoon “Rolly” last week.
At least 300 houses were buried and six residents were killed in Guinobatan, Albay due to the deadly mudflow.
After he ordered the suspension of activities of at least 12 quarrying operators around Mayon Volcano, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu directed the formation of a composite team to investigate the incident.
Cimatu pointed out that the temporary shutdown of the quarry sites will give the composite team time to review the compliance of the operators on quarrying regulations.
He said the team is composed of representatives from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau, and the provincial government of Albay. “The task force that we sent there is already working on the investigation. But I also directed one of my Undersecretaries and the MGB Director to go to Albay.”
The DENR chief explained that the investigation will examine quarrying operations within the perimeter of the volcano, but will focus on the 12 quarrying sites that have been earlier identified.
“The concentration of the investigation is the culpability of these 12 quarrying sites which operate at the same river that there were casualties,” Cimatu said. “But I also want to look at quarrying operations around the volcano. Not only that particular area in Guinobatan.”
“Due to the persistent rains and typhoons, we have to review the quarrying operations there so that if they are cleared, they can start their operations again if I have already checked their compliance on quarrying regulations,” he added.
Cimatu also noted that a Provincial-City Regulatory Mining Board (PCRMB) manages quarrying operations in the province.
As stated in Section 70 of DENR Administrative Order No. 2010-21 or the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act (RA) 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, the PCRMB must be formed to “accept, process, and evaluate applications and determine administrative charges and fees for Quarry, Sand and Gravel, Guano, Gemstone Gathering, and Small-Scale Mining Permits duly filed.”
“All quarrying in the provinces are being managed by the regulatory board there composed of DENR, local government unit, and other agencies of government in one province. The chairman of that is the regional director of MGB and the vice chairman is the governor,” Cimatu said.
He said that the provincial governor also issues permit to quarrying operators as stated in RA 7160 or the Local Government Code.