CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Phividec Industrial Authority (PIA) reiterated that quarry operations inside its property in Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental is still prohibited citing legal and environmental reasons.
Jose Gabriel La Viña, PIA administrator and chief executive officer, said in a recent radio interview that the cease and desist order issued to five quarry operators is still in effect inside the industrial zone to prevent potential flooding that would affect communities and business establishments.
La Viña also argued that the local government units did not obtain certificate of no objection from PIA before issuing permits to the quarry operators.
Established in 1974 through Presidential Decree 538, the Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corporation (Phividec) Industrial Authority is a government-owned and controlled corporation that manages the 3,000-hectare property covering 13 barangays in the municipalities of Tagoloan and Villanueva.
To date, dozens of companies and industries, including power plants, manufacturing firms, and steel factories, collectively known as “locators,” have established their businesses inside the PIA zone.
La Viña did not appear when invited by Gerardo Sabal III, chair of the provincial legislative board’s environment committee, for a dialogue with quarry operators and officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on March 3.
However, in her March 2, 2021 letter addressed to Sabal, lawyer Lezl Suico-Gusay, PIA acting legal services division chief, said they will leave it up to the DENR to address the issue in quarrying.
“The Legal Services Division reckons that comments on quarrying operations, its technical aspects, its related laws, applicability and enforcement can be best answered by [DENR],” Suico-Gusay said in the letter.
Rule XII of the implementing rules and regulations of PD 538, the lawyer said, provides that PIA adopts all Philippine environmental laws including rules and regulations of the DENR and other government agencies concerning environmental pollution and pollution control in so far as these rules are inconsistent with PD 538m PIA’s charter, as amended.
La Viña, however, insisted that the next round of dialogue be held at the PIA office in Tagoloan since the quarrying issue is inside the PIA’s property.
Sabal agreed with La Viña’s invite to hold the discussion on quarrying operations at the PIA headquarters. He also mentioned the quarry operators have permits to extract sand and gravel on the Tagoloan river bed from barangay, municipal, and provincial governments, saying, ‘’their operation is legal.’’
In a previous press conference held at the PIA office, La Viña asserted that under PD 538, PIA has the power and authority to disallow quarrying activities inside its property.
During the committing hearing on March 3, Manuel Sukarno Alvarez, one of the quarry operators, said their operation is legal as he obtained permits from local governments and even a certification from the Phividec, issued by former PIA administrator Franklin Quijano, allowing them to pass through the industrial zone.
Alvarez said he started operating in May 2019, but he temporarily halted the quarrying activities when the river bed became too deep.
He added he ordered resumption of quarrying when the river bed has been filled with sand and gravel brought in by flood.
“It’s as if we did not conduct quarry operation since the river bed has constantly been replenished,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez stopped his operations when they received the cease and desist order from PIA. (davaotoday.com)Phividec Industrial Authority