REPEAT OF TRAGIC CEBU QUARRY LANDSLIDE FEARED IN SAMAL ISLAND
IGACOS MAYOR UY SCORED FOR LACK OF CONCERN FOR ENVIRONMENT
By ROGER M. BALANZA
Vice Mayor Orly Amit of the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) has pressed the alarm button over fear of a repeat in Samal Island of the tragic landslide in a quarry area in Naga City in Cebu that killed 56 people. The tragedy has been blamed on unregulated gravel quarrying operations.
Amit has backed moves to suspend quarry operations throughout the country as a barangay in the tourist island in Davao del Norte is similarly threatened by uncontrolled quarry operations. Barangay Tagbay is said to be one of several barangays under threat by illegal quarry operations.
Various environmental issues have been leveled against Igacos Mayor Al David Uy.
Several sectors in Samal Island have assailed failure of Uy to stop the massive quarry operations.
Uy has also been scored for closing his eyes on illegal sand quarrying that destroys marine environment in the tourist island that is now emerging as one of the country’s primary tourist destinations.
Igacos also appears to be on its way to becoming another Boracay as investors gobble up foreshore areas for tourism ventures. The island is also in bad need of a comprehensive drainage system to avert wanton disposal of waste directly into the sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte has temporarily closed down Boracay island in the Visayas, which is considered as the country’s tourism jewel, over massive pollution and illegal construction of tourism facilities.
The Naga landslide tragedy happened as parts of Cebu province was pummeled by heavy rains brought by typhoon Ompong. The super typhoon which left a swathe of destruction mostly in North Luzon also caused a landslide in a mining community in Itogon killing several other people.
Amit pressed the alarm button over fear of another Naga tragedy in Samal Island as 56 employees of the quarrying company Apo Land and Quarry Corporation (ALQC) were killed in the Naga landslide.
On September 25, Amit met with geologists and engineers of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Region XI to alert the bureau of the threat of quarry operations in Barangay Tagbay.
The MGB XI immediately conducted a surface surveillance of the Tagbay quarry site, where a large community is located.
MGB XI said it would come out with its report and recommendation at the soonest.
MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano has ordered all its bureaus nationwide to suspend quarry operations within 15 days in wake of the Naga tragedy.
In his September 21 memorandum addressed to all MGB regional offices, Moncano ordered the suspension “pending the conduct of safety and geohazard assessment of the surrounding communities to prevent a similar landslide incident to happen.”
In their meeting with Amit, the MGB XI officials said they would order an immediate stoppage, and not wait for the 15-day grace period, if they find that the quarry operations pose immediate threat to the environment and people.
The agency also committed to conduct a dialog with the residents surrounding the quarry site to advise of immediate evacuation should the quarry operations turn out to be an overall danger to life and property.
During his meeting with the MGB officers, Amit, who is known for his deep concern for the environment, emphasized that the Naga tragedy was a concrete example of how people die because our voice against environmental destruction is not heard.
He vowed that Samal Island will be spared from tragedies like the Naga quarry landslide.