MAGANES: Espino and the illegal black sand mining in Lingayen
In my radio program ” Virgil Maganes sa DWPR” aired daily from 8:00-9:00 in the morning, a lot of texters asked me about the development on the issue of illegal black sand mining in Lingayen against outgoing Governor Amado T. Espino Jr., former Provincial Administrator Rafael Howard Baraan, former Housing Chief Alvin Bigay and the owners of Alexandria Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc. and Xypher Builders, Inc.
The said issue was discussed lengthily during the election campaign over air lanes and local newspapers, which was parried off by the camp of Espino as a political propaganda. Espino’s lapdogs denied the existence of the charges claiming that it was an issue during the 2013 elections and allegedly revived by the camp of then gubernatorial candidate Mark O. Cojuangco to discredit the camp of Espino.
The illegal black sand mining is an environmental issue. It was not a political in nature although it has to be discussed for Pangasinenses’ information. I will not dwell on how the issue that started way back in 2011. It’s more than five years hence and many development on it have been in the open-filing of complaints against Espino, et. al. by the residents of the villages of Capandanan, Malimpuec, Sabangan and Estanza, finding of a probable cause by the Office of the Ombudsman, dismissal from government service of Baraan and Binay and the confiscation of the 9,983 cubic meters black sand or magnetite including the equipment used by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Last March 14, the Office of the Ombudsman finally filed the charges against Espino, et. al. at the Sandiganbayan. The charges were contained in two information sheets docketed as SB-16-CRM-0118 and SB-16-CRM-0119 for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. At the Sandiganbayan, the cases were raffled as to what division these will be heard. A newly organized 6th Division of the Sandiganbayan was assigned to handle the said cases.
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.
On March 22, Espino, Baraan and Bigay filed an Omnibus Motion dated March 15 for the dismissal of the charges for lack of probable cause and for deferment of issuance of warrant of arrest, pending determination of probable cause. On April 4, the Office of the Ombudsman submitted its comment opposing the Omnibus Motion in which Espino and the other accused were given non-extendible 15 days to reply from April 26 to May 11, 2016. The reply of Espino and his co-accused came late. It was just filed on May 16, which was out of time, according to the resolution of the 6th Division of the Sandiganbayan.
However, the Sandiganbayan took cognizance of the arguments raised by Espino and his co-accused. In its Resolution promulgated on June 23, 2016 signed by Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda, Associate Justice also the 6th Division Chair Rodolfo A. Ponferrada and Associate Justice Oscar G. Herrera Jr., the Sandiganbayan “finds that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause and for the issuance of warrant of arrest against the accused” basing it on the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in its Joint Resolution dated February 28, 2014. The Omnibus Motion was denied, as the Sandigan found probable cause and subsequently issued the warrants of arrest. On June 13, Espino and his co-accused filed their bail bonds on the two cases.
I should not be writing about this issue anymore but then the interest of the Pangasinenses who are waiting for its development must be addressed. During the election campaign, the radio broadcasters who have discussed the issue were branded as “liars” and the issue on illegal black sand mining was just a result of their fertile imagination. Now tell me, who lied about it? The “wheels of justice” are turning favorably to the residents of Lingayen particularly in the four villages mentioned earlier.I will no longer dwell on the merits of the cases. That will be best tackled by the Sandiganbayan and to refrain from committing “sub judice”.
There will be hearings on the cases in which there will be battles of legal minds. Of course as of now, Espino and his co-accused are still innocent of the charges until such time that the cases is decided by the 6th Division of the Sandiganbayan. Will the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman in its investigation merit conviction of Espino and his co-accused? Or, would the Sandiganbayan find the arguments of Espino and his co-accused favorably? That we have to wait.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at email@example.com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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