MAGANES: Manipulating the Pangasinenses
In my previous columns, I have written lengthily on issues about illegal black sand mining, illegal quarrying and illegal operations of a number game called “jueteng.” In those articles, I posited that these illegal activities being undertaken by the provincial government under the administration of Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. have slowly eroded the moral fibers and values of Pangasinenses.
While the allegations of the illegal activities are true as they are backed up by facts and documents, Espino kept on denying their existence with a usual mantra of ” politically motivated” as a defense and excuse. How long will he hoodwink us? How long will he manipulate us with his lame excuses that he has made considerable progress for Pangasinan? How long will he accept the reality that under his administration, the progress he’s boasting of cannot be felt by the ordinary Pangasinense? Most Pangasinenses are still living in the morass of poverty as what the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has reported last year.
The illegal jueteng operations are still rampant in Pangasinan. It is now operating in the guise of a “jai-alai” under Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation based in Cagayan Province. How can this jai-alai operate when there are no off-frontons to speak of? Where is the fronton where there are “pelotaris” playing? If one bets, the two number combinations must be taken from 1 to 10 with each number corresponding to a “pelotari” playing in the fronton and betting is done in off-frontons. But the jai-alai in Pangasinan is “jai-teng”, a term coined to sway us from the “jueteng” operations, which has 1 to 37 number combinations.
According to Bugallon Vice Mayor Rodrigo “Ric” Orduña who filed a plunder case against Governor Espino before the Office of the Ombudsman in December 2012, he was the one delivering P2.5 million weekly or P10 million a month to Governor Espino as “jueteng” payola from 2007 to 2011. When he filed the complaint, he was accompanied by former Archbishop Oscar Cruz. His collaborating witness was Fernando “Boy Bata” Alimagno who later retracted his affidavit as he was paid P10 million by the Espino camp. The payment made to Alimagno was also collaborated by Abono Partylist Chair Rosendo O. So who was responsible in contacting him.
What a big sum of money coming from poor Pangasinenses. Now tell me, is this the way to show our love for Pangasinan? Espino has launched ” I Love Pangasinan” Movement with one of its core programs is “Healthy Pocket” bringing with him the wads of million pesos inside his pocket as claimed by Orduña.
The illegal quarrying issue in Bugallon is another “healthy pocket” operation of Governor Espino. In Hacienda village of the town, a batching plant of asphalt and crushing machine operates are proofs of insatiability of Espino. While the said equipment, according to Orduña, are operated by an alleged corporation headed by a certain Mr. Shoahon, it could not be denied that the land where these are constructed is owned by Amadeo T. Espino, an incumbent Mayor of Bautista town and brother of Governor Espino. Who has the interests on these machines? Is it not the provincial government sourcing the asphalt and aggregates from these equipment using the provincial funds? Who is benefited from these operations? Is this not also a blatant display of ” conflict of interests”?
The illegal black sand mining could not be undermined by the incessant lies of Espino. In all his paid radio programs, a manifesto denying the existence of black sand mining undertaken in the coastal villages of Lingayen are regularly played. Why is it that Governor Espino has the temerity to deny the illegal black sand operations in Lingayen when all events and circumstances leading to its existence are evident? When the Office of the Ombudsman has rendered its resolution on February 14, 2014 and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in June 2014, Espino together with his co-indictees filed a motion for reconsideration invoking that their activities on black sand mining were done in “good faith”.
The Ombudsman found out that they have violated Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by issuing mineral ore export permit by Espino himself, entering into contract with Xypher Builders and issuance of small scale mining permit to Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures Inc. by former Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan and enforced by former Chief of Provincial Housing and Urban Development Office Alvin Bigay. Technically, Espino, Baraan and Bigay were held liable on those activities as they have no authority to do them under the law. The owners of Alexandra Mining and Xypher Builders were held liable because they misrepresented their companies as legitimate contractors but in fact not registered with the Philippine Accreditation Board (PCAB) under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The said motion of reconsideration was denied with finality last January 12, 2016 when the Ombudsman affirmed its earlier resolution of February 2014. The administrative case against Baraan and Bigay for “grave misconduct” and dishonesty became final, earning them the penalties of: dismissal from government service, cancellation of eligibilities and licenses, forfeiture of benefits and perpetual disqualification to hold government positions. Are these not enough to prove that there was indeed illegal black sand mining in Lingayen?
In addition to these facts, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already confiscated the 9,583 cubic meters of magnetite or black sand in Malimpuec, Lingayen including the abandoned equipment used by Xypher Builders.
The mentioned illegal activities by the Espino administration in Pangasinan are solid proofs that we are being deceived by the sitting powers. Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who are close to Espino are also silent on these activities including many media practitioners who are apparently have their “pockets healthy”. These activities must be put to end.
Why don’t we use our power to change the Espino administration on May 9 elections? Think and be change agents for reforms.
(For comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog The Roving Pen at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio programs, “Ang Bagong Bayan Po(e)” aired over DZRD Sonshine Radio, 981 KHZ, 8:00-9:00 AM and “On Your Marks, 2nd Edition” aired over DWPR Radio Asenso, 1296 KHZ,10:15-11:15 AM. Both programs are aired Mondays to Fridays)
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