Silay Mayor Mark Golez denied Friday, April 16, that he is engaged in quarry operations in Silay City or in any other place.
The New People’s Army (NPA) Roselyn Jean Pelle Command (RJPC) in Northern Negros, in a statement Friday, said it burned heavy equipment operated by Golez in Hacienda Vista Alegre, Barangay E. Lopez, Silay City in Negros Occidental in response to the people’s clamor to punish large-scale quarry operations, which recently caused massive flooding in the area.
The sanction was carried out by the RJPC at about 10 p.m. Monday, April 12, and paralyzed three backhoes at the Malogo river quarry site, the group’s spokesperson Cecil Estrella said.
The NPA also warned that sanctions will also be meted on other entities who ravage the environment and cause harm to the people.
Golez, who has made use of his influence as a local executive, and his business partners are notorious for hauling earth and rocks from the riverbed and even from upland areas near the river, and then dumping waste water and material in the river itself, Estrella claimed.
“These iniquitous practices gave other quarry operators the go signal to abuse the environment. There are hundreds of quarry operators in the 3rd District of Negros Occidental alone and around a thousand more have pending applications. The handful who hold legitimate permits violate the reactionary government’s flimsy regulations with impunity,” Estrella added.
Golez, in response, said he is not engaged in any quarry operations and he does not own any backhoes.
“I have no business interest to protect, I am engaged in purely public service,” he said
He also said the area where the NPA burned the backhoes was in Barangay Consing, EB Magalona. The quarry operators there obtained their permits from the EB Magalona town government, not Silay City, Golez pointed out.
The allegations of the rebel group against him are all lies, he said.
Malogo is a major tributary which runs through several agricultural areas in Silay City, EB Magalona town and Victorias City, where it connects to the Guimaras Strait, the RJPC statement said.
Non-stop quarrying operations and so-called development projects in the Malogo river, other major tributaries such as the Sicaba, Himoga-an, and Danao rivers, and other minor streams in North Negros have caused flooding that has triggered evacuations, and damage to the environment, it said.
The destruction brought about by the excavation of rocks, gravel and sand from these rivers has altered the natural terrain and made the area vulnerable to natural calamities and the inundation of residential areas and farmlands, the statement added.
This mad demand for cheap construction materials is driven by no less than the Duterte regime’s corrupt and mindless “Build, Build, Build” program, which plunders both natural resources and the public coffers while plunging the nation heavy in debt to foreign entities like China, it said.
Golez, on the other hand, said the rebel claims are not reasons for them to cause destruction and fear in the community.
It is clear the rebels’ burning of the heavy equipment is to prevent progress and opportunity to those living in the mountainous areas, he said.
The Silay City government strictly implements the rules and regulations against illegal quarry operations, Golez said.
Golez said he condemns the cruel and violent activities of all groups engaged in illegal activities, including the burning of the backhoes in EB Magalona.
There is no room for lies and abuse of the poor, especially in Silay City, Golez said.
Taking the law into ones hands is not right, there is a God in this world, he said.*