TACLOBAN CITY – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has deployed 175 mining enforcement officers in Eastern Visayas to heighten the monitoring of illegal quarrying activities in the region.
MGB 8 (Eastern Visayas) Director Carlos Tayag said on Thursday the deputized personnel consist of task force enforcers, policemen, village officials, and selected local government employees.
The newly deputized mining enforcement officers are from the towns of Javier and Barugo in Leyte, Sogod in Southern Leyte, and Kawayan in Biliran. These municipalities are known for quarrying activities.
“This is in response to requests of local government units to capacitate local authorities for them to collect revenues from quarry operations and make sure that operators extract sand and gravel within the permitted area,” Tayag said in an interview.
The MGB has no available record of local government losses from unregulated quarrying in Eastern Visayas. However, in 2021, the six provincial treasurer’s offices collected P48.62 billion from mining, including quarrying activities.
The 2021 records also said the region’s 36 operators extracted 276,823 cubic meters of sand and gravel with a total value of P91.22 million.
“There’s a high demand for quarry materials in recent years due to massive construction activities both by the government and the private sector. We have been providing assistance to local government to regulate the extraction of sand and gravel by deputizing enforcement officers,” Tayag said.
Section 138 of the Local Government Code authorizes provinces to levy taxes on sand, gravel, and other quarrying activities.
As deputized officers, they are authorized to investigate violations of mining laws, rules and regulations, and any violations of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
“The MGB will continue to remind operators that apart from business, certain rules and regulations must be followed and that their operations should always be anchored on the principles of sustainable development in keeping with our pursuit to promote responsible quarrying,” Tayag added.
He said more deputized enforcers would be deployed in the coming months, who will be authorized also to apprehend and seize tools, equipment, and conveyances used in illegal mining, including all mineral products illegally extracted, hauled, and possessed by the offender, and to file criminal complaints.
Tayag noted that they cannot enforce mining laws without the support of local governments in consideration of their devolved functions related to mining. (PNA)