MANILA, Philippines – A phone call from Special Assistant to the President Bong Go was all it took for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to order a halt to quarrying in San Mateo and Rodriguez in Rizal.
"Suspending" these quarrying operations was supposedly Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu's response to Go's phone call on Monday, August 13, about flooding in Marikina City and Rizal, according to a press release shared by both Go's staff and the DENR.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda ordered the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Environmental Management Bureau to issue a "joint Stoppage Order on the quarrying and crushing of plants in San Mateo and Rodriguez, Rizal," according to the release.
Go, in a phone call, had asked Cimatu to look into how quarrying in Rizal contributed to the recent flooding in Marikina City and Rizal during heavy rain from the southwest monsoon enhanced by Tropical Storm Karding (Yagi).
He was following up on a complaint relayed to him by a Marikina resident when he dropped by the city on Sunday, August 12, to distribute assistance.
The DENR suspension order was issued even before the department could establish this connection between quarrying and the floods.
"The DENR will conduct an investigation on the possible role of quarrying in the flooding in Marikina," reads the press statement.
Go, in a Sunday interview with radio station DZRH, said, "Kanina po may residente ng Marikina na lumapit sa 'kin, may reklamo siya about quarrying. Sabi ko, ipatitingnan ko sa DENR kung ano ba itong sinasabi niya sa quarrying at ito ba ang naging dahilan sa pagbaha dito sa Marikina."
(Earlier, there was a resident of Marikina who approached me with a complaint about quarrying. I said, I will have the DENR look into it, what it has to say about quarrying being the reason for flooding in Marikina.)
Go has been highly visible ever since President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his support for Go to run for senator in 2019. The presidential aide, however, has denied he plans to run. (READ: Do Bong Go's donations, billboards violate government ethics code?)
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.