Mayor Vico joins call to stop quarrying in Marikina Watershed

Published June 22, 2022, 8:08 AM

by Khriscielle Yalao

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Tuesday, June 21, supported calls for the cancellation of quarrying agreements in the Masungi Georeserve and the Upper Marikina Watershed.

Photo from the Masungi Georeserve

Sotto said in a tweet: “Pasig City is downstream of the Upper Marikina Watershed. If we don’t protect this area and stop deforestation, flooding will continue to get worse in the coming years.”

The mayor shared a copy of the joint call to action which he signed along with Marikina City Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro, outgoing Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi, and Municipality of Angono, Rizal Vice Mayor Gerardo Calderon.

The statement highlighted the contribution of quarrying projects to the accelerating degradation of the forest and ecosystems within the area that lead to harsher flooding and fatal landslides.

It stressed that the Upper Marikina Watershed, being a natural defense against calamities, must be “preserved from exploitation for the well-being of Filipinos and future generations.”

“We strongly urge the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to hold collective over individual interests, support conservation initiatives, like the Masungi Geopark Project, and cancel mineral production spending agreements (MPSAs) covering more than 1,300 hectares of the protected watershed. The proliferation of illegal structures and establishments inside the watershed should also be taken very seriously, with those responsible held to account,” the statement read.

Non-cancellation of the MPSAs provides a leeway for future operations that does not guarantee the watersheds’ protection from abuse.

The statement cited the MGB’s show cause orders against quarry companies that have found “gross violations” breaching the Philippine Mining Act.

They also appealed to the quarry companies “to reconsider the social and environmental impacts of their plans, and voluntarily rescind their MPSAs” in the protected area.

Other signatories included Pasig City Administrator Atty. Jeronimo Manzanero and Malabon City Administrator Voltaire Dela Cruz.

The barangay chairmen in Marikina City who also signed the call to action were Capt. Bernard Bernardo of Sta. Elena, Capt. Segundo Cruz of Calumpang, Capt. Randy Leal of Nangka, Capt. Miguel Punzalan Jr. of Marikina Heights, Capt. Rizalina Teope of Fortune, Capt. Ronnie Tiburcio of Barangka, and Capt. Mary Jane Zubiri-Dela Rosa of Concepcion Dos.

The Masungi Geopark Project began in 2017 and aims to rehabilitate deforested and degraded watershed areas. It’s a non-profit project that engages with multi-sectoral environmental groups to conserve and protect the area. Forest rangers have also been deployed to monitor the activities within the park.