Prov’l gov’t halts pebble picking in Ilocos Norte coastal town

Published December 20, 2021, 1:41 PM

by Philippine News Agency

LAOAG CITY – The province of Ilocos Norte is bent on temporarily suspending pebble picking in the coastal village of Caruan in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte to ensure that not only a few benefits from it.

With a recurring problem on illegal pebble picking in the area, Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc has announced that pebble pickers are given a month or until Jan. 21 next year to sell their remaining stockpile and stop operation for the meantime.

PEBBLES FOR SALE. Pebbles of seven different colors are available for sale along the national highway in Barangay Caruan, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. (File photo by Leilanie Adriano/PNA/Manila Bulletin)

On Saturday, provincial administrator Yvette Convento-Leynes said the Provincial Quarry Office has been conducting an inventory of the existing stockpile of pebbles since Dec. 15 in coordination with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Ilocos Norte police.

These are all exhibited along the national highway for sale until the Jan. 21, 2022 deadline.

“All stockpiles must be declared, otherwise, these will not be given special clearance for the disposal of pebbles,” Manotoc said on Friday as he ordered the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office led by its director, Col. Christopher Abrahano to ensure the implementation of the law.

All pebbles that will remain unsold after the deadline will be forfeited.

Leynes said a public consultation would be conducted on Dec. 21 to hear the side of the affected pebble pickers.

The governor assured that the Ilocos Norte government is willing to provide whatever alternative livelihood assistance that they may ask for.

He likewise appealed to the mayor of Pasuquin to extend assistance to the affected pebble pickers as he pinned the responsibility on the town’s officials to resolve once and for all the illegal pebble picking in the area which he said merely benefits a chosen few.

The governor is referring to a local cooperative in the area which has been stormed by a series of complaints due to alleged abusive leadership and unjust treatment among the pebble picking community.

For his part, Abrahano on Saturday said his men would establish an integrated checkpoint not only on crime prevention but also to check the illegal transport of pebbles and other environmental law violations in the area.