Guinobatan mayor lauds Duterte for quarry ban

Guinobatan Mayor Gemma Ann Onghoco has lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for the timely banning of quarry operations in her town and other areas in Albay after six people died of lahar flow and dozens of houses were half buried in volcanic debris.

This after the President made a quick visit to Guinobatan to personally assess the situation in the area where six people died in the rampaging floods carrying lahar sediments at the height of Typhoon Rolly on Sunday, Nov. 1.

“We are lauding President Duterte for his timely decision of banning quarry activities that have resulted to an unforeseen event of lahar flows hitting residential areas in Guinobatan,” Onghoco told Bicol Mail.

But she was quick to say that technical teams from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) must immediately inspect the gullies and river channels at the foot of Mayon Volcano that are now all silted by volcanic materials that rolled down carried by rampaging floods spawned by the typhoon when it barreled through Albay and Camarines Sur.

“DENR experts should inspect these silted channels for dredging before another typhoon hits Albay. If not, floods would again follow new pathways that could pose danger to the downslope villages of Mayon Volcano,” Onghoco said.

She said they would also strategize on how to protect areas in Guinobatan that should not be subjected to quarrying to avoid a repeat of lahar flows hitting populated communities during typhoons or heavy rains.

The mayor said the ban could be used as a lull period to review the processes and permits being required before a quarrying is allowed.

“Quarrying is not bad at all. But it has to be regulated to avoid untoward incidents due to wanton quarrying activities,” Onghoco said.

All quarry operations in Albay are expected to stop following the order of President Duterte.