The Municipality of Guinobatan, in Albay, is one of those that suffered heavily from Typhoon Rolly. Its losses include five persons dead and two more missing, and millions of pesos worth of destroyed houses, public infrastructure and agriculture. The cause: The quarrying at the foot of Mt. Mayon that flooded the barangays close to the volcano with sand, boulders and volcanic debris. Allegedly, the quarried materials were left in the riverbeds that when Typhoon Rolly arrived, the water pushed the materials along with boulders and rocks down to the residential and agricultural areas.
Investigation on this claim is still on-going and quarrying activities have been suspended already. Even then, the question lingers: Just how lucrative is the quarrying of sand and gravel along Mt. Mayon that even Albay’s provincial governor is allegedly engaged in it?
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), quarrying of sand and gravel at the foot of the volcano is only at 385,952 cubic meters in 2014. It increased slightly to half a million cubic meters in 2015 but has doubled in 2016 and again in 2017 with the election of Governor Al Francis Bichara. By 2018, the figure of sand and gravel is recorded at around 3.9 million cubic meters and possibly near the 5 million cubic meters mark by 2019.
The number of quarry operators also increased from 25 as recorded by the MGB in Region 5 in 2017 to at least 100. Accordingly, only one of the existing permits have been issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) while the rest have been issued by the local government units.
The value of extracted sand and gravel from Mayon Volcano also increased from PhP 18.69 million in 2014 to PhP 550.68 million in 2018. The hike in the volume of extraction as well as value are due to the increase of construction activities not only in the province of Albay but also in Bicol as well as Visayas. As Governor Bichara said, the extracted materials are also being supplied to other areas which include Visayas, possibly due to the Duterte Administration’s “Build, Build, Build Program”.
|Value per Cu.M. |
Quarrying has also created jobs. Directly, it opened opportunities for laborers and drivers and, indirectly, other occupations and enterprises that support the construction industry.
But while quarrying contributes to Albay’s economy, is it also justified? Don’t forget to leave your comments below.