ANTIPOLO CITY – Officials and leaders of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Rizal province led by Governor Rebecca Ynares are under fire for alleged failure to stop cutting of trees, quarrying and mining in the province over the past severals.

Illegal and legal quarrying, mining and logging in the province which is nestled in the Sierra Madre Mountains came to the fore once more as the culprit in the massive floodings in several towns of the province, especially Montalban (now Rodriguez) and San Mateo, and Metro Manila.

Initial investigation following the massive floods spawned by typhoon Ulysses in Marikina City, San Mateo and Rodriguez towns, among others, showed that the continued quarrying, illegal mining, illegal logging and denudation of forests and conversion to subdivisions were blamed for the floods.

To diffuse the heat, Governor Ynares ordered all quarrying and mining operations in the province stopped, wrote President Rodrigo Duterte to issue similar order and for the DENR to act on the complaints of Rizal residents.

During a Senate hearing, embattled DENR Secretary reported he has ordered the suspension of mining and quarrying in Rizal province.

Ynares also appealed to Mr. Duterte to stop land development and locational clearances that has resulted to denudation of the forests, adding that she has written similar appeal to the previous administration but Malacanang has not acted on her letter.

Ynares issued Memorandum Order No. 2020-01 suspending all operations of quarrying and mining, which the provincial government points to as one of the causes of severe flooding in the province and neighboring areas.

“Time and again, the losses of life and limbs and millions of pesos in terms of property damages in the Province of Rizal and neighboring towns ushered by typhoon Ulysses have been repeatedly attributed to quarrying and mining operations and related activities in the province,” the memorandum order stated.

“In the interest of public safety and welfare and ensure environmental protection and sustainability and to address, as well, the complaints and concerns on threats and impacts thereof, more so, during typhoons and similar natural disturbances, all quarry operations and related activities permitted and actively operating in the province of Rizal over a total land area of 39.24 hectares, more or less, are hereby ordered stopped and shall remain to be such unless and until authorized to resume operations for just cause or reason,” it added.

The provincial government urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cause the immediate stoppage of all mining tenement agreements that it granted covering a total land area of 4,964,3162 hectares in the province, including all crushing plant operations.

Likewise, all local government units in the province were advised to cause the immediate stoppage of all land developmental activities, including subdivision development.