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EDITORIAL: Environmental Insensitivity

Quarrying operations within the six provinces of the Bicol region are approaching an alarming level. That notwithstanding local government units, provinces in particular, are lukewarm in confronting the situation accordingly. What makes the situation disturbing is most of the provinces where quarrying is rampant do not seem to care at all.

So far only two provincial governments have manifested concern and in fact already issued pronouncements that concrete actions will already be effected. They are Albay and Camarines Norte, where quarrying operations have indeed reached an alarming level.

In the case of Albay, lessons had been learned over the past several years that floodings hit several of its towns where quarrying have been rampant particularly in Guinobatan, Camalig, Ligao, and Libon, which have been the sites of major quarrying activities with the so called Albay sand being the major focus. The new provincial leadership of Camarines Norte has also made public its intentions to minimize not only quarrying but overall mining operations.

What makes recent developments disturbing is the deafening silence of the provincial leadership of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Masbate, and Sorsogon where quarrying has been in full swing over the years.

In this regard there is something very interesting to note. Of the six Bicol provinces, the new officialdom of Albay and Camarines Norte have made public statements against unmitigated quarrying operations. What makes it more intriguing is the fact that their provincial governors are new in their post.

Albay Gov. Noel Rosal replaced ex-Gov. Al Francis Bichara and Camarines Norte Gov. Dong Padilla defeated ex-Gov. Edgar Tallado.

The developments send a very sensitive issue and may even open up a long- lasting public disdain to political dynasties. They suggest that the more well entrenched in government politicians are in power, the more callous they are in addressing nature-related concerns.

In Catanduanes, Gov. Joseph Cua has been re-elected governor for the third time. In Masbate, Antonio Kho has further tightened the political grip over the relatively large province. In the case of Sorsogon, Gov. Boboy Hamor replaced then Gov. Chiz Escuderro who is now again a senator. All of them graze in the same family ranch. In Camarines Sur, Gov. Luigi Villafuerte replaced his elder brother Migz Villafierte, who is now the representative of the Fifth District. Second District Rep. LRay Villafuerte is now on his last term. Repositioning might be a major concern for the 2025 elections.

It might be relevant to mention here that recent heavy downfalls caused life threatening floods in Baao town. It would not be far-fetched that quarrying operations in Barangay Lanipga and other areas of Bula town are already causing fear of severe floodings, given the unmitigated quarrying activities within the so- called Pecuaria hills, which have so far diminished the beauty of the sprawling hills and should send a major warning on the adverse effects about the levelled off parcels of land in the absence of top soil. Floods are also becoming very frequent in San Fernando town.

Call this coincidental if it would please the observer. But is this situation not a clear indicator on the disadvantages of prolonged political dynasticism, which reflects indifference upon policies and directions unmindful of worsening natural imbalance?

This environmental insensitivity brought about by the ensconced political dynasties and alliances that lead to an unabashed enjoyment and display of entitlement.


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