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Ilocos Norte gov't creates provincial quarry council, appoints new chairman

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, June 23 — To intensify monitoring of illegal quarry operations, the Ilocos Norte government has created a Provincial Quarry Council (PQC) and appointed a new chairman to lead the body.

Executive Order No. 238-14 recently signed by Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos states that the new council is now headed by Atty. Erme Labayog, provincial legal officer, along with mining engineer Teofilo Mazon Jr. as vice chairman.

Other members of the PQC include: Provincial Treasurer Josephine Calajate, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Juan delos Reyes Jr., Atty. Eric Cua, as representative of the governor, Paulo Juan Enrico Valenciano, head of the inspection team and Federated ABC president Charles Tadena.

On January 29, 2008, a quarry task force was created but with the recent developments about the controversial quarry industry, the governor has thought of institutionalizing measures to strengthen the regulation of quarry operations and simplify the procedures governing the issuance of quarry permits.

According to Marcos, “An upsurge in provincial construction has created a high demand for sand, gravel and other quarry resources accompanied however by numerous reports of illegal quarry operations necessitate the strengthening of the regulation of quarry operations.”

Also, there had been reports that both small and extensive quarry operations continue to utilize harmful and substandard methods that threaten the environment and health of the surrounding communities, requiring the province to upgrade the technology of extraction and disposition of quarry materials.

The governor created the new council backed by a secretariat and inspection team to include previous members of the previous quarry task force, including the Philippine National Police, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

This is to ensure that revenues and other benefits derived from quarry operations redound not only to the quarry permit holders and operators but more importantly to the local government units and other stakeholders, especially the marginalized and indigenous peoples.

Specifically, the PQC shall have the following powers and functions: to prescribe form, to accept and evaluate applications for permits including new and extension period of validity permit, approve and grant application permits, deployment of personnel to quarry sites for compliance of quarry laws, investigate complaints and impose sanctions for violations of quarry laws, orders and ordinances.

As a major local revenue source of the province, quarry fees and charges have a share of 30 percent for both the provincial and municipal government while the host barangay has at least 40 percent share.(PNA)

LAP/LGA

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