A Catholic diocese south of Manila is commissioning a study that will look into the impact of quarry activities in the province of Albay, which was devastated by a series of typhoons this month.
Father Rex Paul Arjona, social action director of the Diocese of Legazpi, said his office is in the process of shortlisting experts and scientists who will conduct the study.
The priest told LiCAS.news that the focus of the research will be the impact of quarry operations on the environment and communities in the province.
“We are in the process of identifying alternative experts who can help us develop this study and come up with a recommendation that we can submit to the government,” he said.
Father Arjona said the study aims to look at the “legal framework” covering extractive activities in the province.
Early this month, the government suspended all quarry operations near Mount Mayon Volcano after hundreds of houses in Guinoabatan town were buried in lahar.
On November 1, rainwater and volcanic debris came rushing down the slope of the volcano at the height of super typhoon “Rolly” (international name: Goni).
At least three people were reported killed in the mudslide while hundreds of families were displaced. Some residents blamed quarry operations for the lahar flow.
Father Arjona said the Catholic Church was supposed to issue a pastoral statement on the incident “but decided to put it on hold until a research study is conducted.”
“We cannot just issue a statement or put the blame on something without scientific proof,” he said.
“It has to be an evidence-based articulation of what had happened and who is to hold accountable,” added the priest.
On November 22, the country’s Environment department reported that at least 14 quarry operators in Albay province have been found violating environmental laws.
Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said nine of the 14 quarry companies have expanded operations within the prohibited zone while the others were operating with expired permits.