20-year quarrying moratorium up in Puerto Princesa

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Dec. 12 (PNA) - Pro-environment non-governmental organizations (NGOs) here made a big score when the Sangguniang Panlungsod approved in a special session an ordinance that will impose a 20-year moratorium on quarrying in selected barangays of this city.

Councilor Rocky Austria, chairman of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the moratorium was unanimously given the green light by members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod after verifying that the river quarry sites in Barangays Kamuning and Inagawan, and at Inagawan Subcolony and Sitio Magarwak have seriously suffered due to rampant gravel and sand gathering.

In imposing the ban, the city government will no longer give permits to new quarrying operation applications in the said areas. However, those with existing quarry permits will be allowed to finish the terms and conditions of their contracts, provided they do not commit violations, according to Austria.

He warned that if the quarry operators with existing permits make any violation, their licenses will be immediately revoked.

Inagawan Barangay Chairman Ariel Lacao, who has been lobbying for the revocation of permits of quarry operators in his area, thanked the city councilors for their decision to implement a quarrying moratorium.

Lacao said the river of Inagawan has been heavily quarried and now poses a threat to residents. He said gravel and sand gathering has widened the river and now almost looks like the sea.

He expressed apprehension that water overflows during heavy rains might cause flash floods in communities near the river.

Inagawan is a low-lying barangay located south of Puerto Princesa

Last October, the Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI), the largest umbrella organization of environmental and civic groups, called on the city government to check on rampant illegal quarrying in Inagawan and a few other barangays in Puerto Princesa to prevent the destruction of important river systems and land areas, some of which are located inside core zones.

Elizabeth Maclang, environment advocate from the PNNI, said recent inspections of the quarry sites disclosed that many quarrying operators have expired permits.

Some of the heavily quarried rivers for gravel and sand in Barangay Inagawan, Puerto Princesa are Tagbarungis, Taytayen, and Tacduan rivers. (PNA)