The Local Government of Ormoc made a bold pronouncement in temporarily banning export of sand and gravel quarried from within Ormoc City. It also temporarily suspended approval of applications for quarrying permits in this city.
Quarrying had also benefits like increased employment, increase of locally-sourced income of the city and support to a bullish construction industry, among others. However, these economic benefits are eclipsed by the environmental and social impacts as evidenced by the increasing complaints by residents of the surrounding communities.
Quarrying activities are known to disturb natural ecosystems of the surrounding areas. The carryover of solids to river streams block sunlight and may damage aquatic and marine ecosystems in the downstream bodies of water. Quarrying also promotes soil erosion and degrades aesthetic value of the area. Deepening of riverbeds disturb irrigation systems in the nearby agricultural land. Communities also complain about dust and noise pollution which adversely affect health of the people.
The local government already made orders to mitigate these impacts for the last three to four years, but problems remain. Commitments to rehabilitate quarrying areas were not fully implemented.
Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez released Executive Order No. 17A which bans all exportation of sand and gravel materials extracted from the city. The order also enforces the execution of rehabilitation plan committed by SAG operators.
Ormoc and Albuera are two of the major sources in the Visayas of Class A sand and gravel used in construction sector. In Ormoc alone, approximately 15,000 MT of SAG is exported to other places every month.
Gomez explained that the Taal eruption is yet another illustration of the effects of fragmentation, saying that the lack of evacuation capacity — not to mention the quality of temporary accommodations — is one of the looming problems on disaster response.
“The proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) presents a department that carries the responsibility and mandate to lead, manage, direct and implement all programs pertaining to disaster resilience, from risk reduction to response, relief, recovery and rehabilitation,” said Gomez.
“The DDR will absorb key disaster risk management functions from the DND and DSWD, namely the disaster risk management functions of the Office of Civil Defense, Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau and the National Resource and Logistics Management Bureau,” she added.