Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu today ordered a halt to all quarry operations in eight regions of the country and to have their safety assessed.

Cimatu announced the suspension during a press conference in Naga City, Cebu, following a landslide that occurred near a quarry site in Sitio Sindulan, Brgy. Tinaan.

The regions covered by the suspension order are Ilocos, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Bicol, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao, and Caraga.

“The suspension will be effective until such time that the review and assessment of quarry operations are completed, [including] surrounding communities as far as their safety from the impact of the quarry operations and geohazards is concerned,” Cimatu said.

Likewise, the DENR chief also ordered a review and assessment of all quarry operations nationwide to determine the safety of their operations and of surrounding communities.

Earlier, Cimatu announced the creation of a team of technical personnel from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) “to conduct a thorough and independent investigation and check why [the landslide] happened, how it happened, and what we should do.”

He also announced the relief of four officials of the MGB regional office in Cebu, namely, Director Loreto Alburo, Chief Administrative and Finance Officer Atty. Jerry Mahusay, chief geologist Al Emil Berador, and supervising geologist Dennis Aleta.

Cimatu said the investigating team would look into the accountability of the four officials regarding the landslide.

Earlier today, Cimatu has also ordered the Environmental Management Bureau to suspend the Environmental Compliance Certificate of Apo Land and Quarry Corporation.

The environment chief called for immediate evacuation of remaining residents in the area, proposing that they be relocated in an area at least a kilometer away from the danger zone.

He described the site as “volatile”, which could lead to further soil slippage. ###