Espino’s warrant of arrest served; posts bail
By Virgilio Sar. Maganes
LINGAYEN- The 6th Division of Sandiganbayan, an anti-graft court, thrashed the omnibus motion filed by Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. requesting for the determination of a probable cause of the two cases filed by the Office of the Obudsman for in connection with illegal black sand mining in this town.
The cases were on violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corruption Practices Act.
In denying the said motion, the Sandiganbayan said, ” The issues raised are best addressed during the trial” and subsequently issued warrant of arrest against Espino and his accomplices including dismissed Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan and Provincial Housing and Urban Development Chief Alvin Bigay on the illegal black sand activities.
Espino posted P60,000 bail bond for the two cases on June 13.
Rolando Rea, a septuagenarian of Estanza village here, who fought for the indictment of Espino and others said the “wheels of justice are turning” in favor of the people of Sabangan, Estanza, Capandanan and Malimpuec- the coastal villages where the black sand mining activities were undertaken.
It will be recalled that in June 2011, the provincial government issued a small-scale mining permit to Alexandria Mining and Oil Venture to mine black sand in the costal villages here.
In July 2011, the permit was recalled after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) suspended the granting of small scale mining permits.
In August of the same year, the provincial government issued a gratuitous permit to Xypher Builders, Inc. to “conduct earth moving activities and removal of unsuitable materials” to give way to an alleged construction of an 18-hole golf course.
Governor Espino has likewise issued a mineral ore ex post permit to Xypher Builders, Inc.
In November 2011, Aroen mo ako Sambayanan (AROMAS), an environmental group in the coastal villages headed by Vicente Oliquiño filed a complaint against Espino, Baraan, Bigay and the owners of Alexandria Mining and Oil Ventures and Xypher Builders for violation of mining laws before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Office of the Ombudsman in June 2014 issued its investigation report and found out that illegal black sand mining activities were undertaken in the said areas.
Facing two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) are Governor Amado Espino, Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan, along with Cynthia Camara and Lolita Bolayog of Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc ( Alexandra Mining).
Facing one count of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 are Pangasinan Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Officer Alvin Bigay, Alexandra Mining Directors Cesar Detera, Edwin Alcazar, Denise Ann Sia Kho Po, Annlyn Detera, Glenn Subia and Emiliano Buenavista and Michael Ramirez, Gina Alcazar and Avery Pujol of Xypher Builders, Inc.
In the Joint Resolution, the Environmental Ombudsman cited that Presidential Proclamation No. 1258 ( 1998) declared Lingayen Gulf as an environmentally critical area and expanded the scope of the protected area to cover the barangays of Sabangan, Estanza, Malimpuec and Capandanan, reserving a protected area of 184 hectares for eco-tourism and other sustainable development activities and projects.
In Mach 2015, MGB Regional Director Carlos Tayag issued the order of confiscation to the Xypher Builders, Inc. after the company failed to show documents that its activities were legal. The company appealed for the reversion of the decision, but MGB sustained the order on May 15, 2015.
MGB confiscated around 9,588 cubic meters of black sand (around 30,000 metric tons) that would be bidded out, after seeking clearance from DENR central office.
The Office of the Ombudsman also found out that the extracted black sand was exported to China through its buyer, DH-Kingstone Holdings Co. Ltd. in the amount of P10.750 million.
The Ombudsman pointed out that Alexandria Mining and Oil Ventures and Xypher Builders Inc. should have not been given permits by the provincial government because they were not accredited by the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB).
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