La Union police arrested five individuals for allegedly engaging in illegal quarry operations along the Tubao-Aringay River in the municipality of Tubao in violation of national laws and provincial ordinances.
Police records showed that at 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 19, joint personnel from 2nd La Union Provincial Mobile Force Company and Tubao Police Station, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of La Union, and Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB), responded to a reported illegal quarrying activity at Tubao-Aringay River in Barangay Halog West, Tubao, La Union.
The investigating team then caught the five suspects “quarrying/excavating rocks and stones at Tubao (Aringay) River” using heavy equipment and transport vehicles.
The suspects were found operating a LiuGong PayLoader, a Hyundai Excavator Backhoe, a Sinotruck Dump Truck, and an Isuzu Mini Dump Truck on the site. “They failed to show any pertinent documents with their quarrying activity,” the police said.
Arrested were Lito O. Panelo, 40, resident of Barangay Francia West, Tubao who was said to be the operator of LiuGong Payloader; Sammy L. Fernandez, 50, resident of Barangay Magsaysay, Tubao and operator of Hyundai Excavator Backhoe; Irzo M. Asuncion, 50, resident of Barangay Kagawad of Halog West, Tubao and driver of Sinotruck Dump Truck; Rolly S. Laron, 37, resident of Barangay Francia West, Tubao and driver of Isuzu Mini Dump Truck; and Michael O. de Guzman, 39, resident of Barangay Francia West, Tubao and helper assigned to the Isuzu Mini Dump Truck.
The suspects were detained at Tubao Police Station but they posted bail on the same day.
The arrest of the suspects came after the provincial government of La Union asked a certain Edelberto Garcia “to cease and desist your extraction activities outside the applied area.”.
The alleged illegal quarrying in Tubao was discovered after the provincial government received a report from a reliable source who said that the operation was allegedly led by Garcia in Barangay Leones East.
The provincial government, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) Region 1, conducted a joint investigation in the area on Sept. 14.
Personnel from DENR-MGB Region 1 gathered global positioning system readings on the location of the extraction activities and based on the plotting, the extraction site was found to be outside the applied permit area of Garcia.
The environment officials recommended that Garcia stop his operation, rehabilitate the area where he extracted the sand outside his area, and pay the penalty for violating Article 9, Section 2A of Provincial Ordinance 274-2021.
They also asked the local government unit of Tubao to monitor extraction along Aringay River to avoid illegal operation and extraction activities.
The shutting down of Garcia’s illegal quarry operations is in line with La Union’s Anti-Illegal Quarrying Task Force.