Officials here have moved to strengthen the Provincial Quarry Council (PQC) with a new set of members and an oversight committee to intensify the monitoring of illegal quarry operations.
Sarrat town Mayor Remigio Medrano said in an interview on Monday that this move should strengthen the regulation of quarry operations.
“We hope that local government units will also be deputized to apprehend illegal quarry operators,” said Medrano.
He reiterated that the basis of computing quarry fees should be the total volume of extracted sand and gravel and not the processed volume.
In 2014, the PQC was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 238-14 specifically 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.
But the Ilocos Norte government temporarily suspended the granting of sand and quarry permits pending the finalization of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of a newly-approved Provincial Quarry Ordinance. The IRR is expected to be out next month.
Sarrat town is host to the largest industrial sand and gravel permittee, Omnico Natural Resources Inc., which has its own private seaport located within the boundary of Badoc and Currimao, Ilocos Norte.
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.
Earlier, the Ilocos Norte board amended the existing quarry ordinance of the province to criminalize theft of minerals.
Despite the upsurge of infrastructure projects in Ilocos Norte, it has been observed that quarry fees and taxes have declined from approximately P14 million in 2010 to P 6.2 million in 2016. (PNA)