Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara, on Tuesday, doubted that quarrying operations in Guinobatan are to blame for the severe flooding that wiped houses when Super Typhoon Rolly hit the area over the weekend.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has suspended quarrying operations in Guinobatan following the destructive damage brought by Rolly.
Cimatu said floodwaters traveled down the Mayon Volcano’s slope and reached three rivers where 11 quarrying operations were ongoing.
The DENR chief said operators leaving their stockpiles in the middle of these rivers could have caused the destructive floods.
But according to Albay Governor Bichara, no operator would do such a thing during the rainy season.
“I doubt it because of no operator… it’s always raining, so no operator will stockpile in the middle of the river,” he told ANC.
“It’s a rainy season, eh, sino maglalagay doon? Mawawala din ‘yan, sayang ang efforts nila, mawawala din ‘yan,” he added.
Guinobatan lahar flow not linked to quarrying – Albay gov
“They should have conducted an investigation first before they decide on something,” the governor said when asked if Cimatu could have been misinformed.
“Nevertheless, we will follow. There’s no problem with that,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, after visiting typhoon-hit areas in the Bicol Region on Monday, ordered an investigation must be conducted regarding quarry operations in the area.
Bichara said quarry operators must secure permits before they can operate.
“We issued the permits. Before we issue the permits, I always require them to go first to the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to ask for environmental compliance, certificate before I issue,” he said.
Super Typhoon Rolly triggered lahar mudflows on Sunday, burying over 300 houses in Barangay San Francisco, Guinobatan, Albay.
In a Facebook post, Ako Bicol Representative Zaldy Co shared photos of houses in Guinobatan, some two-thirds buried in lahar from Mayon Volcano.
A lahar is a violent type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris, and water.
The most recent eruptive episode of Mayon Volcano began in early January 2018 that consisted of phreatic explosions, steam-and-ash plumes, lava fountaining, and pyroclastic flows.