A brief shouting match on Wednesday, November 24, highlighted a hearing by a committee of the Santo Tomas Sangguniang Bayan (SB) on alleged corruption in the town’s quarry operation.
The verbal scuffle happened as Councilor Julie Mantequilla, chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources who presided over the hearing, cut short Councilor Richard Languido in the middle of his speech and declared him “out of order” as Languido lambasted the Municipal Information Office (MIO) over a press release that he said insulted members of the SB. VIEW VIDEO
Mantequilla interrupted Languido, pointing out that the councilor was straying out of the matter at hand that pertains to quarry operation.
Languido’s beef was over a press release by the MIO that he said disparaged the image of the members of the SB.
The press release entitled “Soil Analaysis Laboratory or 8 Vehicles WorthP11.2 -M?”, was posted by MIO on Noember 17. The news item was the subject of a scathing privilege speech against MIO delivered by Councilor Cromwell Cocamas on November 22, Monday, as the SB tackled the 2022 annual budget.
It was also on that Monday that Cocamas called for a probe on alleged corruption in the operation of quarries for which the environment committee held on November 24, a hearing that led to the verbal clash between Languido, Cocamas and committee chair Mantequilla.
Mr. Languido, I would like to remind you that we are discussing Item number 3,” Mantequilla told Languido. The quarry operation was Item No.3 in the agenda of the commitee hearing.
But Languido dismissed the presiding offcer’s reminder, insisting that he has the right to say his piece.
“No, You are out of order! You are out of order, sir! I’m sorry,” Mantequillla, raising his voice, told Languido, who was forced to back off from continuing with his speech.
Minutes before Languido was censured for his disordely behavior, Mantequilla also cut off Cocamas who also scored MIO for the press release that he said insulted the members of the SB.
The press release pertained to an P11.2 million budgetary allocation in the P611 Million 2022 annual budget.
The MIO presss release posed a question as to which project the budget would go: Cars for each member of the SB or a major agricultural project.
Cocamas said the MIO press release made it appear that the members of the SB are greedy and could use the fund to buy cars for themselves.
In assailing the MIO, Cocamas said he was reiterating his privilege speech at the SB session on November 22, Monday, where he lashed out at the press office.
He said he was asking why MIO is “victimizing” SB members with “insulting” press releases and posts in social media.
Like Languido, Mantequilla also stopped him from his attack on the MIO and to limit discussion on the subject of quarry operations.
While the hearing ended without any finding on the alleged corruption in the operation of quarries as claimed by Cocamas , it was instead revealed that share of Santo Tomas muncipality increased tremendously during the administration of Mayor Ernesto Evangelista.
No permit to operate in accident that killed two
The Davao City government is filing charges against a firm operating a quarry that collapsed killing two laborers and a minor in August 4 in barangay Maa.
This, even as Dims Quarry had aborted criminal charges being filed against the firm in a settlement with the victims’ families.
The City Legal Office is filing theft of minerals against Dims Quarry for operating without a permit, said lawyer Joseph Dominic Felizarta of the city legal office.
Felizarta said the filing of the charges is based on the recommendation of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), which found that Dims had no permit to operate from the city and national government agencies.
Two laborers quarrying earth fill on the land owned by Letty Uy were buried alive around 2pm on August 4 as heavy rains pounded the city. A child —a relative of the landowner—playing in the area was also buried alive.
The families of the victims have not filed charges against the firm which extended financial assistance to them. But Flizarta said Dims was guilty of illegal operations and should face charges for thief of minerals under Section 103 of RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act.
According to CENRO investigating officer Engr. Girlie Ann Japitana, Dims continued to operate despite its permit having expired. For the tragic incident, Felizarta said City Hall may not also renew the permit of Dims.
According to Felizarta, Section 103 of Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act define “Theft of Minerals” as “extraction of minerals and disposing the same without a mining agreement, lease, permit, license, or steals minerals or ores or the products thereof from mines or mills or processing plants.”
The violation is punishable with imprisonment of from six months to six years and fine of P10,000 to P20,000, on top of liability to pay “damages and compensation for the minerals removed, extracted and disposed of,” by Dims.
Avila committee junks appeal of sand quarries
By ROGER M. BALANZA
The Davao City Council committee on environment and natural resources is throwing out an appeal by operators of sand and gravel quarries in Davao City rivers declared as environmentally-critical zones by a city ordinance aiming to protect the city watersheds and water source recharge areas in the third district.
But councilor Leonardo Avila III, chair of the committee, said the Davao City Quarry Masters Cooperative and a Kalagan tribe running quarries in Tamugan, Marilog district could bring their case to City Hall, saying the appeal requires amending the ordinance.
Rivers in the city’s Third District have been declared as critical zones under the Davao City Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Ordinance also known as the Watershed Code.
The landmark code authored by councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling was signed into law by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte last year. The code however could not as yet be implemented for lack of Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). A technical working group has been formed by Duterte to craft the IRR.
The Kalagan tribe and the quarry operators group, which operates in the Third District, have appealed that the code be amended to allow their operation.
But the City Legal Office has declared the quarry operations as against the Watershed Code while the Business Bureau has refused to renew their permits.
In a committee report, Avila and members of the environment committee with Cabling as co-chairman, said it could not grant the appeal unless the Watershed Code is amended to allow the operation of the quarries.
The committee recommended the operators bring their appeal to City Hall which is now crafting the IRR.