Gov Daniel Fernando. Photo from his official Facebook page

CITY OF MALOLOS–Gov. Daniel Fernando ordered on Monday the establishment of nine quarry checkpoints in key areas in the province as he further strengthens today the protection of Bulacan’s environment and natural resources.

The checkpoints will guard the quarried marble, boulders, iron ore minerals, sand, aggregates, etc. including cut timbers and logs from Bulacan Sierra Mountain ranges to make sure they were sourced and are being transported legally.

Atty. Julius Victor De Gala, head of the Bulacan Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO) said that on top of the nine checkpoints the governor ordered created, there will he a roving team that will man the checkpoints outside the regular 8:00 am to 5:00 pm hours.

Fernando who wants a stricter protection of the province natural resources retain Degala in the BENRO post in his current second term after he won by a landslide victory in the May election. 

Fernando said people living in low-lying areas where abusive and illegal quarrying take place experience flash floods during strong rains because of already denuded forests. 

Bulacan provincial government environment and natural resources personnel flag down this truck passing along the Manila Road Road in Calumpit town without the necessary permit and sticker. Photo from BENRO

He said quarrying is allowed and permitted in Bulacan as it also provides jobs to many, but it has to be regulated, controlled and fully monitored to prevent being abused and cause devastation of the province natural wealth. 

“Ang regulated at permitted quarrying ay namomonitor kung kaya hindi tahasang nasisira ang kapaligiran dahil dito. Ang illegal quarrying po ang kalaban at ‘yun ang patuloy nating binabantayan at nilalabanan,” the governor said.

The marbles, iron ores, boulders, aggregates, sand, logs, timbers, are quarried and cut down in the Sierra Madre areas in Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT), Norzagaray, San Miguel, San Ildefonso and Angat towns. They pass along these town’s major roads including the Plaridel Bypass which huge portions were already destroyed and were recently rehabilitated by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Since the governor’s first term on 2019, BENRO had monitored and patrolled 468 illegal logging reports; monitored and investigated 181 quarry and mining concerns; checked 35,494 vehicles for accreditation stickers; and collected 128,551 pieces of delivery receipts and transport slips.

Degala said despite the lockdowns and the rise in prices of petroleum products, the collection from fines of trucks is still the same, and that these fines are going straight to the provincial government’s funds through the Provincial Treasurer’s Office.

“Maganda ang ating collection  considering na pandemic tapos grabe ang taas ng petrolyo pero maintained ang apprehensions which means mas Intensified ang panghuhuli kasi mas kaunti ang nakakabiyahe ngayon,” Degala explained to NEWS CORE.

Overloaded trucks of quarried materials are also blamed as the major cause of destruction of Manila North Road, Plaridel Bypass and other national roads in Bulacan.