Temporarily suspending quarry operations in eight regions in the country might worsen the already high inflation, Senator Francis Escudero warned on Wednesday.
In a statement, Escudero cautioned the plan of the Department of Environment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to temporarily suspend quarrying activities which he said will undermine the efforts of the government to address the currently high prices of commodities.
“Amidst the government’s efforts to control inflation, here is a policy decision from one agency that will erase whatever little gains they have achieved at reining it [inflation] in,” the senator said.
Escudero noted the decision of the DENR will have impact primarily on construction materials, and thus, affect the infrastructure spending of the government under its Build Build Build program. He also highlighted the possibility of shortage in construction materials as a result of the DENR suspension.
“Kapag tumaas ang presyo ng gasolina o presyo ng bilihin, ang hirap nang ibaba o bumaba iyon matapos bumaba dahil nga sa domino effect na nangyayari,” he said. (“The domino effect will not make it easy to roll back prices of basic commodities and fuel once they go up.”)
The DENR ordered to suspended all quarry operations in Regions I, III, CALABARZON, V, VII, X, XI and XIII after the tragic landslides that claimed the lives of over 100 individuals in Itogon, Benguet and Naga City, Cebu.
It can be noted the agency ordered an immediate safety inspection and geohazard assessment of the communities near mining and quarrying operations. DENR said it will be the basis for the lifting of the temporary ban.
However, the senator noted the DENR should have conducted safety and geohazard evaluation first before suspending quarrying activities, noting the affected mining and quarrying have already secured operating permits. He pointed out the agency should create more inspection teams to do the assessment before ordering their closure.
“Wag namang ipasara agad habang hindi pa naiinspeksiyon. Mali naman yatang polisiya iyon,” the senator added. (“We should first inspect before ordering it closed. It’s a bad policy decision.”)
The senator explained that while he fully understands the DENR position to protect communities, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu must also take into consideration the impact to the economy his policies.
“Pero dapat unawain at isipin rin niya ang domino effect ng kanyang mga ipinag-uutos sa ibang aspeto ng ating lipunan at ekonomiya,” Escudero said. (He should study and understand the possible domino effect of his orders on our economy.”)
The Provincial Government of Pampanga reportedly moved to appeal on quarry activities after the DENR order following the fatal landslide in Naga City, Cebu.
SunStar.com reported Pampanga is appealing to be exempted from the order, arguing it may lose P 25 million daily as a result of the suspension. It would also reportedly affect the quarry industry of the province that employs around 8,000 people.
The same report also cited Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office (PGENRO) Chief Engr. Art Punsalan as saying Manila and neighboring provinces heavily depends on quarry materials from the province for construction.
Photo courtesy of Cebu Provincial Government