ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – The intention was to keep the province’s rivers from getting damaged further due to excessive quarrying, but the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said Governor Rosalina Jalosjos’ first executive order suspending commercial and industrial sand and gravel extraction was invalid.
“It’s already sweeping. Her EO (executive order) has already touched on areas where she has no jurisdiction,” MGB-Zamboanga Peninsula officer-in-charge Hernani Abdon told Rappler on Tuesday, September 13.
Abdon said the MGB wrote to Jalosjos days after she signed the order in July to inform her that the EO was unfounded.
Zamboanga del Norte provincial government spokesman Ivan Patrick Ang and provincial administrator Christopher Mah said they were unaware of the MGB letter.
On her first day as governor, Jalosjos signed EO 1 which suspended quarrying provincewide until the capitol could trim down and rationalize the list of quarry permit holders.
Jalosjos invoked an Administrative Order No. 37 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which authorized governors to issue sand and gravel extraction permits, and the province’s Small-Scale Mining Ordinance that empowered the provincial chief executive to suspend or revoke such permits for “safety and sanitation purposes.”
Abdon, however, said Section 9 of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 provides that the MGB would have “direct charge in the administration and disposition of mineral lands and mineral resources…”
Based on this law, he said, the suspension or revocation of such permits may be done if permittees fail to comply with any of the requirements provided in the Mining Act, violate terms and conditions or agreements, and if they miss out on paying taxes and fees due to the government for two consecutive years.
Abdon said a 2010 administrative order of the DENR also made it clear that local governments can only approve “small-scale mining, sand and gravel, quarry, guano, gemstone gathering, and gratuitous permits, and industrial sand and gravel permits not exceeding five hectares.”
He said Jalosjos’ order did not conform to the mining law and DENR’s administrative orders.
“Hence, other reasons for the cancellation, suspension, and revocation of sand and gravel (extraction) permit not stated in RA 7942 and DENR Executive Order 2010-21 are whimsical and invalid,” read part of MGB’s letter to Jalosjos.
Abdon said he understood the reason for Jalosjos’ order but stressed the need for the capitol and other concerned groups to coordinate and collaborate with the DENR and MGB.
He said the MGB may recommend the suspension of industrial sand and gravel extraction permits pending river assessments and a stockpile inventory.
“The problem was, we were not consulted before EO 1 was issued,” Abdon said. – Rappler.com