LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Albay Vice Governor Harold Imperial and some members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan have called on the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the illegal quarrying of gravel and sand at the foot of Mayon Volcano which is shipped out of the province’s lone seaport.
During an investigation of the Sanggunian, witnesses said that 4 cargo loads of minerals are shipped out of the Santo Domingo port 4 times a week bound for the Visayas and Mindanao.
Volcanic matter deposited at the foot of Mayon volcano produces high quality gravel and sand to be used for construction and is in demand in the government’s current Build, Build, Build program.
Lino Ferrer, a former liason officer of a quarrying firm and one of the three witnesses in the ongoing probe, told the Sanggunian each cargo vessel leaving the port was loaded with 2,000 of volcanic materials. All in all, at the present rate some 384,000 cubic meters leave the seaport in a year.
Ferrer said each truck hauler pays an additional P25 per trip on top of the regular payment to the government
Manuel “Rolo” Orquico of Rolco Construction and Development Corporation from Daraga town, also a witness, said they did not receive receips for payments they gave a representative of the provincial environment and natural resource office (ENRO) task force.
“If the volume of aggregate (hauled) is 4,000,000 cubic meters transacted based on the P200 million income collected by the provincial government, meaning the collection pocketed by an individual is P256 million bigger than the amount paid to government’s coffers,” Imperial said.
Provincial Board Member Raul Rosal said: “The quarrying operation is four times higher than before. The minimum truckload fee is P2,000 or so, it used to be P500… These mineral resources are given to us for free from Mayon volcano ejecta. We need to revisit our ordinance because we are not charging P2,400 minimum truckload. We cannot collect and charge based on executive order alone it must be based on provincial ordinance.” – Rappler.com
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