DENR chief says Albay quarry firms putting workers’ lives in danger
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has warned that quarry companies in Albay are risking the health and lives of their workers with their continued operation within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone around the restive Mayon Volcano.
“It seems that these companies are more concerned with profits than the welfare of their workers who endure the punishing conditions at the mining sites amid the volcanic eruption,” Cimatu said.
The environment chief issued the statement following reports that quarry workers were still hauling sand and gravel materials within the danger zone despite warnings from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
The DENR regional office in Legazpi City had also called on the quarry operators to temporarily cease their operation due to safety concerns.
According to Cimatu, an erupting volcano could blast ash, lava, solid rocks and gases into the air, creating hazards that could hurt or even kill people and destory property.
“Our primordial concern must be the safety and health of all people affected by the eruption of Mayon Volcano,” said the former Armed Forces chief and special envoy to overseas Filipino workers in distress.
Meanwhile, DENR Region 5 Director Eva Ocfemia reported that the total suspended particulates (TSP) have reached “unhealthy levels” over Ligao City and the municipalities of Camalig and Guinobatan.
Thus, Ocfemia advised residents in said areas to constantly use face masks to avoid exposure to harmful dust that may compromise their respiratory health.
Last week, the DENR central office in Quezon City sent 100,000 protective face masks and hundreds of relief goods to DENR Region 5 office for distribution to people in evacuation centers.