SARIAYA, Quezon— Four persons were caught hauling illegally sourced sand aboard two trucks in Barangay Castañas in Sariaya, Quezon, on Friday, a move expected to stop rampant illegal sand quarrying in the town.
“The extracted sands are often hauled to hollow-block makers and construction projects in nearby towns and Batangas province,” said lawyer Sheila de Leon, chief of Tanggol Kalikasan-Southern Tagalog.
De Leon and her staff members joined members of the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board, police and Army soldiers in an operation in Sariaya on Friday.
Barangay Councilor Apolinario Rivarez said illegal quarry operators from Batangas had been digging for sand in the shallow portion of Tayabas Bay fronting their village for several years now.
The unabated sand quarrying had caused the sea water to advance about 300 meters and occupied a sizeable portion of coconut farmland.
To show the grave effect of long years of beach quarrying, Rivarez said the calm sea water fronting his hut used to be the village’s softball playing field.
Rivarez pointed to several uprooted coconut trees along the coast, which, he said, were the effect of inland invasion of sea water. He said more than 50 coconut trees had been uprooted due to sea water invasion.
He said illegal sand quarrying stopped after it was reported on TV last month. “But lately, the sand haulers are back. They operate at night,” said another villager.
A truck was seen at a distance being loaded with sand quarried along the coastline.
In Castañas, the group caught a truck being loaded with sand from the river under the newly constructed concrete bridge.
The truck driver, Reynaldo Endrinal Jr. from San Juan, Batangas, said they bought the sand for P550 per truck from a local resident engaged in sand quarrying using a spade.
Endrinal pointed to a village councilor in Alupay in Rosario, Batangas, as the owner of the truck. “We have no more sand to quarry in our place that’s why we’re buying them here in Sariaya,” Endrinal told the Inquirer.
The group also flagged down another truck loaded with sand along the Quezon-Batangas ecotourism road in Castañas.
The truck driver, Jurning Teope from Tiaong, Quezon, pointed to one Edwin Ardena also from the same town as the owner of the cargo.
The truck drivers and their helpers were brought to the barangay office for custody. De Leon said the suspects would be charged with illegal quarrying.
De Leon said they have also been receiving reports that destructive rock mining operations have returned at the base of Mount Banahaw in Sariaya.
“The man-made rivers from illegal mining activities pose a serious danger in case of flash floods,” De Leon said.
The local government has been limiting quarry operations to the natural riverbed.
(Defense of Nature) is a non-stock, non-profit and non-governmental organization doing public interest lawyering in the Philippines. It has operated as an environmental law office for 17 years already. Tanggol works with national and international partners and networks and has its main office in Quezon City. It also maintains fully-staffed area offices in Alaminos City, Pangasinan (Northern Luzon Office) and Lucena City (Southern Luzon Office) and field offices in Lipa City and Baao, Camarines Sur.