Environmental groups urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to heed the appeal made by Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro to stop, and not just suspend, quarrying operations in Rodriguez and San Mateo following the destructive habagat floods.
Buklod Tao, EcoWaste Coalition, Save Sierra Madre Environmental Institute and Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance backed the cancellation of quarrying permits to protect Marikina City and the disaster-prone towns of Rodriguez and San Mateo from floods and landslides.
“We have again witnessed nature’s wrath as raging waters damaged homes and besieged communities with mud and garbage. The “Ondoy”-like tragedy came as no surprise given the steady obliteration of the Marikina watershed and the Sierra Madre by quarrying and other detrimental activities such as waste dumping,” said Noli Abinales, chairperson of Buklod Tao, a community group in San Mateo.
“Stopping quarrying operations is a critical policy that has to be enforced. This has to be supplemented by other measures that will disallow reckless land conversion that is eating up farms and forests in this bastion of biodiversity,” he said.
Fr. Pete Montallana, Chairperson of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, pressed for the protection of the fragile forests of the Sierra Madre to enable the biodiversity-rich mountain range to protect Luzon from severe weather disturbances.
“Sierra Madre’s capacity to shield our communities from storms, rains and floods has been weakened by damaging human activities. To enable her to protect us, decisive action is needed to put an end to activities that defile and destroy the Sierra Madre such as the unchecked logging and quarrying, as well as projects that destroy the forest biodiversity and violate the indigenous people’s rights,” he said.
“We need to stop the logging, mining, quarrying and dumping activities in the Sierra Madre to save her from unabated destruction, which is the root cause of the damaging floods,” he added.
Daniel Alejandre, zero waste campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition, said Sierra Madre must be protected from garbage disposal activities that contribute to its environmental degradation.
“Waste prevention and reduction is very much needed to cut the volume of garbage sent to dumpsites and landfills that are regrettably located in the Sierra Madre,” he said.