Vice governor favors studies on limestone quarrying

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Vice-Governor Jose “Bong” Teves Jr. moves for selective and regulated mining to produce substantial amount of limestone cement for the erection of the Friendship Bridge connecting two places in Catanduanes and Camarines Sur nearest in distance owing to inadequate financial resources of the province to realize the project.

He laments exaggeration of some sectors in presenting negative scenario to the extent of presenting unsubstantiated claims as facts to serve political ends they intend to benefit at the expense of others. Nevertheless, the Vice-Governor assured the public of bringing the issue into the open and calling resource persons, non-government organizations and local authorities of mastery in technical aspect on the disputed area of concern particularly the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to enlighten provincial leaders on limestone mining.

The proposed resolution of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan exempting limestone quarry operations involving cement and related raw materials for projects directly undertaken by the provincial government is a reasonable and practical amendment to the House Bill sponsored by Congressman Cesar Sarmiento, the Vice-Governor said.

Sarmiento’s bill seeks to ban quarrying of gravel and sand among private individuals particularly contractors. Enactment of the law authored by Sarmiento would mean sand and gravel had to be gathered from mainland Bicol for private use and the only redeeming proposition in the legislative measure was the exemption of the province in gathering aggregate materials needed in government projects.

Some quarters are of the opinion that Sarmiento’s bill is designed to jeopardize construction industry and hamper efforts to broaden sources of revenue for Catanduanes to become a self-reliant province. Vice-Governor Teves also shared the information to the working media in an interview that Catanduanes will be the main source of raw materials for the production of limestone cement while manufacture into finished products will take place in Camarines Sur.

A joint session of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan of the two provinces is scheduled on April 28 to iron out salient points in the proposed resolution endorsing House Bill 670 entitled “An Act Declaring The Province Of Catanduanes A Mining-Free Zone” which will only be passed by both legislative bodies after consultation with the people and public hearings deemed as integral stage before adopting legislative measures of vital importance to the general interests, the Vice-Governor said.

The Vice-Governor reiterated several times his pronouncement that a provision for large scale limestone mining in the resolution will not be tolerated. He also admitted an ordinance sponsored by Pbm Giovanni Balmadrid making Catanduanes mine-free without exemption to any and all kind of minerals has already been approved but not yet published.

Balmadrid in media interviews and public utterings have maintained unequivocal commitment to preservation and protection of of natural resources aptly provided in the ordinance he authored which is distinct from House Bill 670 of Congressman Sarmiento and the resolution endorsing amendment to the congressman’s legislative measure.

In another development, Albay Governor Joey Salceda put to task Governor Araceli B. Wong on facilitating fast and comfortable sea travel of less than two hours between Albay and Catanduanes. The proposal was in connection with Salceda’s aspirations in making Albay a Gateway to Bicol from Xiamen China which recently inked sisterhood contract primarily focused on exchange of tourists which, according to Salceda, necessarily involves Catanduanes as another destination of convenient access with regular travel of proposed sea crafts.

Governor Wong saw a bright prospect in tourism promotions for Catanduanes that will spring from tie-up with the neighbouring mainland province and promised to establish links with the Chinese community for the purpose together with an invitation to private investors for partnership in the purchase of fast crafts at estimated cost of 60 million pesos per unit. (PIMO)