Dr. Jun Ynares
THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
“Why are you so strongly opposed to mining?”
“If you stop mining, you will slow down economic development.”
“You cannot void an action of a national government agency.”
These are some of the text messages we have been getting over the past few weeks. The messages came from both friendly and unfriendly quarters. They poured in after an announcement from the local government of Rizal Province that it is ordering a halt to all mining and quarrying operations in all areas within its jurisdiction. They were also apparently triggered by the statement we read late last year before committees of the Senate, where we echoed the position of the province on the issue of large-scale mining and quarrying operations.
It looks like a clarification needs to be made.
First of all, the moves taken by the Rizal Provincial Government are more about heeding the call of the people of the province rather than just being against the mining and quarrying industries.
For the record, the province recognizes the contribution of this sector to its bid to create and sustain jobs, fuel the growth of businesses that support these industries, and raise revenues from local taxes. The province has not overlooked such contribution. However, the provincial government also recognizes that its primary responsibility and accountability are to its constituents. The provincial leadership is obliged to listen to them, to understand their aspirations for themselves, their families, and their future – the things that constitute their primary interests.
Part of their interest about their future is the protection of the environment and natural resources. They have expressed that these are part of their children’s heritage and which they want preserved and protected for future generations of Rizaleños.
Unfortunately, both of these are directly affected by the operations of entities involved in large-scale mining and quarrying.
The Provincial Government also respects the assertion of national government agencies that the products of mining and quarrying operations are vital to major infrastructure development endeavors.
They continuously point out to the Provincial Government that Rizal province is the closest – and richest – source of the aggregates and other raw materials that are crucial to infrastructure development in Metro Manila.
They have warned the local government that stopping large-scale quarrying in the province would force builders, both government and private, to source raw materials from more distant locations. This, they underscore, would be more costly and that the added cost would always be passed on to the government, and eventually, to Filipino taxpayers.
Again, we respect that viewpoint.
As far as the local government is concerned, however, there is a more pressing viewpoint: that of its constituents.
So, unless and until the national government and the national legislature comes up with new policies and guidelines that would assure the province’s constituents that their interests are protected and promoted, the local government is constrained to act in accordance with their mandate.
The new guidelines and policies have not yet been formulated.
So, in the meantime, the Rizal Provincial Council has decided that it must continue to take actions based on the voice of its constituents.
One of its most recent actions is to impose a ban on trucks and other vehicles that are used to haul aggregates, cement, and other products of large-scale mining and quarrying in the province.
This means these vehicles which attempt to transport these products from their point of origin within the province to their destination – and which will use routes within the province’s jurisdiction – will be stopped. They will not be allowed to proceed and will be prevented from consummating the delivery of the products.
This truck ban within the province of Rizal will be implemented as soon as the required period for publication of issuances by the local government is completed.
Why has the imposition of a truck ban on vehicles carrying these products become necessary?
The fact is the Rizal Provincial Government cannot unilaterally void the permits issued by national government agencies. It is beyond the purview of its powers and the operators of these entities know that fact.
So, despite the plea of the local government and its memorandum stopping all mining and quarrying operations, these activities have surreptitiously resumed. We cannot fault them for doing so. After all, these business entities carry valid permits issued by national government agencies.
The Provincial Government is, therefore, constrained to look for other means to advance the interest of its constituents. After all, this is the local government’s mandate.
The concerned businesses have been put on notice regarding the impending truck ban.
The interest of the public has been served.
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