ORMOC CITY – By the powers vested by law in City Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez and pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 7160 and other pertinent issuances, the good mayor has signed into implementation Executive Order (EO) No. 2023-0005, which suspends the acceptance of all new applications and renewals for sand and gravel permits on areas within the Panilahan River, suspending the export of sand and gravel outside the jurisdiction of Ormoc, and directing the implementation of rehabilitation plans for all existing sand and gravel permit areas.

She signed the said EO on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

Per Section 80 of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2010-21, Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 7942, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, provides that permit holders shall, as a condition of their permits, comply with, among others, “such rules that the City Mayor may deem best for the national interest and public welfare and necessary to prevent further indiscriminate and heavy extractive operations for sand and gravel” in the jurisdiction of Ormoc City.

Accordingly, Panilahan River operators have not accomplished the requisite rehabilitation as required in EO No. 17-A and the rehabilitation plan proposed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

To recall, it was on October 20, 2022 that the City Government of Ormoc entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with DENR- 8, DENR-MGB 8, DENR-EMB 8, the Province of Leyte, LGU-Albuera, the DPWH, and the NIA for an inter-agency coordination for the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the Panilahan River.

Thereafter, a ground survey and validation of the present condition of the Panilahan River was conducted from November 2022 until the end of December 2022; and currently, the parties to the MoA are still in the process of formulating the Panilahan River Rehabilitation Plan and its implementation. Finally, the said EO emphasized that failure to comply with the suspension of export “shall be sufficient ground for the cancellation, revocation, or termination of the sand and gravel permit pursuant to Section 100 of DAO 2010-21 in relation to Section 80(a)(10).” By Gwen Maurillo (EV Mail January 9-15, 2023 issue)