Ombudsman asks Sandiganbayan to suspend Espino
The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the Sandiganbayan to suspend Pangasinan Sixth District Rep. Amado Espino Jr. in connection with his graft case over the alleged illegal black sand mining in Lingayen Gulf.
In a motion filed before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division, the Ombudsman, through its prosecutorial arm Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), said Espino must be placed under preventive suspension in accordance with Section 13 of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Under Section 13 of RA 3019, any incumbent officer charged under a valid case information of any crime involving fraud upon government or public funds or property… shall be suspended from office,” the OSP pointed out.
The OSP said since Espino has already been arraigned, the information of the case is already deemed valid.
“Wherefore, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that this Honorable Court issue an Order suspending Accused Espino, from discharge of public office pending trial of this case,” the OSP’s motion read.
The graft case against Espino and 13 others stemmed from the alleged illegal blacksand mining activity in Lingayen Gulf during his term as the governor of Pangasinan.
Based on the information of the cases filed by the Ombudsman in March of this year, Espino and two other provincial officials conspired in giving “unwarranted benefits, privilege and advantage” to Alexandra Mining and Xypher Builders by issuing in favor of the two companies permits to conduct “soil, magnetite and mineral extraction activities” in Barangay Sabangan in Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan in 2011.
The Ombudsman said a Small Scale Mining Permit was issued in favor of Alexandra Mining despite lack of necessary clearance certificates from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, accreditation from the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board or PCAB, and business permit from the municipality of Lingayen.
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman said a Gratuitous Permit was issued in favor of Xypher despite also not being accredited by PCAB. Like Alexandra, the Ombudsman said Xypher also failed to secure clearance certificates from the MGB.
Further, the Ombudsman said Espino also issued a Mineral Ore Export Permit in favor of Xypher allowing the company to sell the illegally extracted minerals to DH-Kingstone Holdings Co. Ltd. based in China in the amount of P10.750 million, “causing undue injury to the government.”
Espino was elected representative of the Fifth District of Pangasinan on May 9, 2016 elections.
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