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MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, September 1 (PIA) -- Permits for sand and gravel extraction, irrespective of size - either five hectares or above - will have to be approved by the provincial government before any other agency can issue succeeding permits.

This was reported by Cong. Damian Mercado, September 1, in a block-time program over DYDM, "Action, Solusyon, Inisyatibo sa Congreso."

Quoting the gist of a House Environment Committee hearing in aid of legislation, which conducted a marathon session on the matter Wednesday last week, Mercado said the clarification was also based in a Supreme Court ruling on a similar issue, in addition to various rules, laws, and regulations cited by the committee.

The hearing was held on the initiative of the lone Southern Leyteno solon in an effort to settle lingering questions on who can grant extraction permits, especially those concessionaires beyond five hectares.

Mercado also quoted Cagayan De Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, a member of the House Environment Committee, as saying that in their province the provincial government was empowered as the issuing body for such kind of permits.

Earlier, shortly after an early morning tree-planting activity at barangay Cambooc here, Gov. Roger Mercado told PIA the same update as the main substance of the congressional hearing that he also attended.

The elder Mercado, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday Friday, reiterated the authority of the province to issue extraction permits, whether big or small, when interviewed on the sidelines of his birthday party at the Capitol Tree Park.

Meanwhile, some 1,870 seedlings of Acasia Mangium trees have been planted by about three hundred employees who joined the tree-planting, a regular activity every natal day of the Governor. (jrc/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)