Recto: Investigate sand extraction attempts in PH

DREDGING. Philippine Coast Guard personnel inspect the dredging vessel docked in Lobo, Batangas. Photo from PCG Batangas

DREDGING. Philippine Coast Guard personnel inspect the dredging vessel docked in Lobo, Batangas.

Photo from PCG Batangas

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he would file a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry on whether there were also sand extractions elsewhere in the Philippines aside from Batangas.

In a statement on Saturday, April 6, Recto said that all similar cases of “poaching or export of sand and other landfill materials” in the country should be thoroughly investigated.  

“Have we become a land reclamation material supplier? Are we exporting our sand?” he said.

Earlier, it was reported that a Chinese dredger ship was seen in Barangay Lagadlarin in Lobo, Batangas. Local officials expressed alarm as the Chinese vessel allegedly docked close to a 30-hectare mangrove forest without prior notice or even permission.  

Senator Risa Hontiveros had earlier called for a Senate probe into the Batangas incident. 

Senator Paolo Benigno 'Bam' Aquino IV, meanwhile, hit China for taking too much of the Philippines' resources. 

Inagaw na nga nila ang mga isla natin, pati ba naman buhangin, gusto pa nilang angkinin,” he said. “Nakakaalarma ang insidenteng ito dahil malinaw na ito’y panghihimasok na sa karagatang sakop ng Pilipinas."

(They're already taken our islands, now they want to take our sands. This is very alarming because they are clearly trespassing in the Philippine waters.)

Review policies

According to Recto, the government should review existing policies on sand and gravel quarrying, transport, and sale. The industry should consider distributing these to places within the Philippines as “many provinces are sand and gravel poor.”

Kaya tumataas ang home construction cost kasi minsan binabarko pa ang mga ito from one province to another. Many government road projects have been delayed by the lack of gravel and aggregates,” he said. 

Dito sa atin, kailangan magkaroon tayo ng imbentaryo at mahusay na policy ukol sa resources na ito. Maaring magsimula sa isang 'no export' policy,” Recto added.

(That’s why home construction cost is high because sand is shipped from one province to another… Here, we need to do an inventory and good policies regarding our resources. Maybe we can start with a no export policy.)

The report of sighting of a dredger vessel in Batangas comes amid an announcement by the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that over 600 Chinese ships have circled Pag-asa since January 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been constantly criticized for his government’s partnerships and loans that place China in an unfair advantage over the Philippines and its resources. (READ: Made in China: Loan terms with waivers, shrouded in secrecy) – Rappler.com