Due to over-extraction, the exportation of sand and gravel (SAG) from the province of Leyte will be banned if the proposed ordinance of the province’s board members will be implemented.
The ordinance aims to declare anyone who had granted a permit to sell SAG outside the province unlawful.
However, according to officials, they might exempt Samar province from the ban because of its high demand for SAG due to continuing construction developments.
“Majority of our permittees and stakeholders who attended agreed (during the public hearing). We have to control the damage this has caused and set limitations for our concessionaires or contractors to show us their programs of work so we would know the volume of minerals they need from our sources,” said Mesias Arevalo, Chairperson of the council’s committee on environment.
Only 25 percent of the concessionaires renewed their permits, and despite the huge increase in revenue collection from SAG, these were not enough to cover the road and bridge maintenance affected by the SAG extractions. These were revealed during a public hearing.
The province has collected around P6.7 million for its share from SAG concession last year, from the 74 active permittees.
Tabon-Tabon, Leyte Mayor Efren Redoña backs the ordinance even though the SAG operations does not cover their municipality. He added that they were still affected because 25 to 32-tonner trucks go by the town’s road from the Dagatan River extractions.
McArthur municipality Mayor Rudin Babante has also rampant SAG extraction in their town. He encourages farmers to complain about their irrigation and water supply being affected.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) chief geologist Eduardo Tan confirmed that there were violations done by 28 concessionaires based on their assessment.
“They have extracted more than what is specified… There are many violations of what has been stated on their Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). There is environmental damage, scouring of riverbanks, land areas reduced, and we should require embankment for protection in some areas,” he disclosed.
Mesias suggested MGB to assign barangay tanods, local officials and the police to act as environment officers.
“I suggest they fast-track the deputation in order to have an immediate arrest of illegal concessionaires,” Mesias urged, citing that MGB has only deputized two police personnel in the whole province.
Last week, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez released an executive order banning SAG exploration outside the city.