Phividec insists no quarrying allowed inside industrial zone in Misamis Oriental
By : Jigger Jerusalem Mindanao Today/10:30:05pm 04/01/2021
The Phividec Industrial Authority (PIA) has maintained that it will not allow quarry operators to resume their operations inside its property in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental, citing legal and environmental repercussions.
By Jigger J. Jerusalem
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Phividec Industrial Authority (PIA) has maintained that it will not allow quarry operators to resume their operations inside its property in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental, citing legal and environmental repercussions.
Jose Gabriel La Viña, PIA administrator and chief executive officer, said in a radio interview recently that his cease and desist order issued to five quarry operators is still in effect.
He said the PIA decision to stop the quarrying operation inside the industrial zone is to prevent flooding that would affect communities and business establishments alike.
La Viña also argued that the local government units did not obtain certificate of no objection from PIA before issuing permits to the 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 Wednesday, 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 in the same location.
Sabal said he is amenable to the suggestion that discussion on quarrying operations be conducted at the PIA headquarters, although he has noted that the quarry operators have obtained permits to extract sand and gravel on the Tagoloan river bed from the barangay, municipal and provincial governments and that their operation is therefore legal.
In a previous press conference held at the PIA office, La Viña has asserted that under PD 538, PIA has the power and authority to disallow quarrying activities inside its property.
During Wednesday’s committing hearing, Manuel Sukarno Alvarez, one of the quarry operators, said their operation is legal as he has 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 temporarily halted quarrying activities when the river bed became too deep.
He added they only resumed 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,” Alvarez said.
He said they had stopped operation the moment they received the cease and desist order from PIA.