Bohol mayors seek amendment to quarry ban in 3 towns
by Rey Anthony Chiu
Tagbilaran City (19 July) -- Town mayors of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan ask Capitol to look into an executive order implementing a total quarry ban in their towns and possibly rescind or amend it so they could pursue development work using local natural resources.
Unlike some other towns in Bohol, these 3 towns host the famed Chocolate Hills and lost their privileges to enjoy gratuitous quarry permits from government. This, most perceived disadvantageous to their cash deprived local governments wanting to do road network maintenance projects.
Taking the cudgels for other towns, Carmen Mayor Manuel Molina has asked the Capitol, through its newly formed Task Force Kabukiran and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) led by Jagna Mayor Exuperio Lloren to intercede and exempt their towns from the ban issued by Governor Erico Aumentado.
Governor Aumentado in 2007 issued a quarry ban within the area designated as the Chocolate Hills National Geological Monument in a bid to stop activities that would result to the defacement of the national landmark.
However, Molina argued that the quarry site that they intend to source out materials from lie in barangay Villafuerte; and not a Chocolate Hill is noted nearby. He added the source is an existing quarry site operated by a private company.
The quarry, according to him, temporarily stopped operating due to the Capitol executive order.
If the Capitol accedes, he said the town does not need to look farther to buy for its materials source.
In protecting Bohol's amazing hills, Senate Bill 534 of the Chocolate Hills Protection Act of 1997 specifically protects the hills located in 32 barangays in Carmen and Sagbayan, but does not mention Villafuerte.
Batuan Mayor Gregoria Pepito added she too faces the same predicament. Cash-deprived Batuan, she said wished to be granted by Capitol gratuitous quarry permits so they can start rebuilding their road networks now bearing the brunt of the long rainy days.
Sagbayan Mayor Jimmy Torrefranca on his part shares the same sentiment.
The chocolate hills areas have also excellent sources of lime stones, rocks, soils for road surfacing and back filling materials.
Over this, Bohol Environment Management Office (BEMO) Chief advised the mayors concerned to meet with the governor so they could appraise Capitol officials of the problem and possibly patch the infirmity of the executive order.
BEMO's Engr. Renato Villaber agreed that the Task Force Kabukiran would still apprehend illegal quarry activities unless the executive order is rescinded or amended. (PIA) [top]