Press Release
April 6, 2019

'Amidst global shortage, local sand must be for PH housing, infra'

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the Senate probe into the "poaching or export of sand and other landfill materials" should cover not only the reported sand dredging in Batangas "but similar cases in other parts of the country."

Recto said he will a file resolution that will inquire into the sand extraction attempt of a Chinese-manned dredging ship off the coast of Lobo, Batangas, and "if this incident is happening in other areas as well."

"Have we become a land reclamation material supplier? Are we exporting our sand?" Recto said.

"If our mountains have been flattened and transported ship by ship to reclaim islands, some of which are within our territory, then that is land transfer of the worst kind," Recto said.

Recto said if reports are true that the Chinese ship was dredging sand for use in the building of Hong Kong airport's third runway, "then it is our second contribution to the project - the first being the P700 million that Filipino travellers pay a year for the expansion of the Hong Kong airport."

"It is in the fine print of a round-trip plane ticket to Hong Kong. Nasa ticket 'yan. You pay 90 Hong Kong dollars as Hong Kong airport construction fee," Recto said.

Given the global shortage of sand and rising local demand for the construction material, Recto said it is time for government to review existing policies on sand and gravel quarrying, transport and sale.

"There are many provinces in the country that 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," Recto said.

"Six million units ang housing shortage natin. These can't be wiped out without sand. Sa farm roads pa lang, mga 15,000 kilometers remain to be paved, and these require gravel. Domestic construction is a P2.4 trillion a year industry, all dependent on sand, gravel and aggregates. This is the big picture," he said.

"Sand is in high demand worldwide. According to the United Nations, sand and gravel account for 85 percent of everything mined worldwide annually. And China, which accounts for half of the global demand, is like a huge sand-and-gravel suction machine," he said.

Recto said the high demand for sand has given birth to "sand mafia" in many parts of the world, "and possibly, there are local groups here which are trafficking that sellable commodity."

"Under the radar lang at hindi napapansin kasi buhangin at graba lang. Hindi ginto, hindi nickel. Ang tingin ng mga tao, marami 'yan at hindi nauubos. But that belief is wrong. These are not infinite materials," he said.

"Global gravel extraction is at a volume twice than what all the rivers can yield. Vietnam's domestic demand for sand exceeds the country's total reserves. Many beaches in other countries have been stripped bare of sand. Strip mining also happens in coastal areas. Dapat huwag mangyari dito yan," 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," he said.

News Latest News Feed