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Residents seek stop to quarry after death of 3
By Armand M. Galang

Oct 10, 2017

PALAYAN CITY – Residents of a village along Upper Pampanga River here want a quarry operation, being conducted by a private construction firm, stopped citing dangers posed to their lives, specially their children.

This after three people, including two elementary pupils, drowned in the quarry area in less than one month.

Cousins Vanna Kylle, 12, and Crystell Ann, both surnamed Pascua of Barangay Lusok, Bongabon town, were playing in the previously safe area in the river when they slipped to a portion depened by quarrying at around 10 a.m. on Sept. 10.

Last Oct. 2, ice cream vendor Pampilo Castro, 45, of Barangay San Roque, also of Bongabon, was swimming in the same spot when he suddenly disappeared at about 2 p.m. His body was recovered by rescuers in the downstream village of Singalat at about 3 p.m. the following day.

“Noong wala ang quarry na yan ay walang napapahamak diyan,” said 72-year-old Lita Domingo.

She said the entire community, to include residents from adjoining villages, used to enjoy the river where they wash clothes, swim and fish among others.

Nelson Velasquez,40, said the quarry area appeared to be too deep to swim in. “Nung may nalunog diyan, nag-rescue kami ay halos dumugo na ang tenga namin ay hindi pa namain maabot. Mga tatlong tao na ang lalim,” he said.

Velasquez said they have been calling the village officials to stop the extraction in the place but to no avail. “Sa kapitolyo na daw po kami magreklamo at si kapitan ay marami pang pagdadaanan,” Velasquez said.

The provincial government is the office that issues quarry permits.

A check by officials from the province’s environment and natural resources office (ENRO) though disclosed that the company, a certain SPJ Construction, might have violated rules by extracting quarry materials in approximately less than 100 meters from the bridge.

The officials who refused an interview said quarry extraction should not be less than one kilometer from the bridge, citing danger that the activity poses to infrastructure.

The PENRO vows further investigation on the quarry activity but initial investigation showed the company has no permit from the office for the particular extraction. Nelito Ramos, Village chair, said he was the one who requested the firm to extract quarry there to desilt the waterways.

But he said he knew nothing about the fees it could be paying to the provincial government.

Extraction has been on-going for over a month now, Ramos said.

Efforts to contact SPJ Construction for comment proved futile.




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