Albay Gov. denies quarrying to blame for destruction in province

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 18) — Albay's top official denied quarrying was to blame for the destruction brought by storms in the province.

When asked about whether he thought quarrying operations around Mayon Volcano caused the lahar overflow, Governor Al Francis Bichara said it's not true.

"Hindi totoo iyan eh, kasi... dumadaan muna iyan sa DENR para kumuha ng environmental certificate... So, I think alam mo, kailangan i-dredge iyong mga ilog. Kapag hindi natin nai-dredge iyon mas malaki ang problema, mas malaki ang damage, malulunod iyong mga villages. Iyan tingnan mo, hindi galing iyan sa quarry. Tingnan mo iyang mga bato, wala namang nagku-quarry ng bato diyan, galing iyan sa taas," he said during Wednesday's Laging Handa briefing

[Translation: That's not true because... that goes through the DENR to get an environmental certificate... So, I think you know they have to dredge the rivers. If they aren't dredged, there will be greater damage, the villages will go underwater. Look, those didn't come from quarries. Those rocks, no one quarries rocks there, that was from above.]

He pointed out the difference between Mayon and Mt. Pinatubo, saying Pinatubo was lower.

"Ang sa Mayon Volcano eh, kapag umuulan bumababa pati mga malalaking bato. Ito, galing iyan lahat sa Mayon, hindi galing sa quarry, kakaunti lang ang quarry eh," he said.

[Translation: In Mayon, when it rains even the large rocks come down. All of this is from Mayon, not from quarry sites, there are not a lot of quarries.]

Bichara also said they were waiting for the results of the task force sent to investigate the allegations so they could follow its recommendations.

Earlier, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the suspension of all quarry operations around Mayor after the lahar flooding incident that occurred during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly.

He added they will also investigate quarrying procedure of these firms since stockpiles must be placed in their respective quarry areas and not in rivers. Operators could face closures if they are found to be liable, he noted.