MAGANES: Politically motivated, until now?
I could not fathom the unfathomable!
The recent order of the 6th Division of Sandiganbayan for the 90-day preventive suspension of former Governor and 5th District Representative Amado T. Espino Jr. drew mixed reactions from Pangasinenses. Many are telling that the suspension was a welcome move from the Sandiganbayan to once and for all punctuate the allegations that Espino ventured into illegal black sand mining in Lingayen, which started in 2011.
We are now in the year 2016. The controversy started in 2011 when Espino, through his trusted man then Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan, issued a small scale mining permit to Alexandria Mining and Oil Ventures to undertake an earthmoving activity at the alleged site of 18-hole international golf course project at the Lingayen Gulf that covers the villages of Estanza, Sabangan, Malimpuec and Estanza.
The said company started the activities but was suddenly stopped when the Mines ad Geosciences Bureau (MGB) called the attention of the provincial government that small scale mining operations have been suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
That was in July 2011. However, the provincial government issued in August in that same year a gratuitous permit in favor of Xypher Builders Inc. to undertake earthmoving activities in that same site and to remove unwanted materials for the construction of a golf course. Because of the massive activities in the areas leading to the destruction of the site, an environmental group that called itself “Aroen Mo Ako Sambayanan (Aromas)” headed by Vicente Oliquinio, complained. First, they sought the assistance of then 6th District Board Member Ranjit Ramos Shahani who actively assisted them.
In February2012, the issue had reached the attention of Archbishop Socrates Villegas who initiated a dialogue between the Aromas and the provincial government. In that dialogue, the provincial government was represented by Rafael Baraan and Alvin Bigay who promised in front Archbishop Villegas to sto the operation of black sand mining and to withdraw the equipment andextraction machines from the area. It was a healthy dialogue.
However, Xypher Builders continued its operation in extracting black sand or magnetite from the area. In June 2012, then Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño visited the place and promised to have an investigation in the House of Representatives, in aid of legislation. From 2011 to 2012, Espino was allied with the Nationalist Peoples” Coalition (NPC) headed by Mark Cojuangco in Pangasinan.
In October 2012, Aromas formally lodged a complaint of illegal black sand mining against Espino and his cohorts at the Office of the Ombudsman. The group sought the help of then Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza on teir predicament. Braganza, who was running for governorship in 2013, obliged to render assistance to the group. The complaint slept at the Ombudsman, until February 2014 when the full investigation report came out. The delay of investigation was due to the absence of a hired Ombudsman, which later was former Justice Conchita Carpio Morales who also created the Environmental Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman did its best to investigate the illegal black sand mining, thus in June 2014 it found out that Espino and his cohorts indeed ventured into illegal black sand mining- Alexandria Mining and Oil Ventures and Xypher Builders were not duly accredited contractors under the Philippine Contractors Accredited Board (PCAB).
When didl former fifth district Rep. Mark Cojuangco come into the picture of illegal black sand mining issue of Espino? Although Cojuangco had announced his interest to run for governorship as early as February 2014, the illegal black sand issue was not talked about in his camp. In fact he said he did not know about its existence.
The issue on illegal black sand mining has reached a level where those who were indicted had to resort to finger pointing. It has reached already a level where Espino will be suspended by the Sandiganbayan in its order dated September 7.
Now, why does Espino has to drag the name of Braganza and Cojuangco to a problem of his own making? Braganza is now a member of the peace process appointed by President Duterte. Cojuangco, on the other hand, has not dipped his finger on the issue of black sand mining, but now the most sought resource person on the proposed opening of the Bataan Power Nuclear Plant (BNPP) by the Duterte administration.
Espino likewise has dragged the name of Yolanda Fuertes, a correspondent of Philippine Daily Inquirer, whose participation was to write the news stories about the black sand mining.
What then prompted Espino to include them in his press release after the suspension order of Sandiganbayan? Espino has already ran out of excuses for his participation on illegal black sand mining. Pangasinenses are already aware of what had happened in the past that no amount of telling them that they won handily during the elections of 2013 and 2016 will change the perception that they were part of the cases they have been indicted of. Winning in election is based on many factors. It is not confined to issues, like the illegal black sand mining, that they want to impress to Pangasinenses. How about massive vote buying, black propagandas, mudslinging, etc.?
With his order of suspension from the Sandiganbayan, Espino is now set to swallow a bitter pill on the illegal black sand mining. And maybe, to swallow the more bitter pill regarding his alleged involvement in the “drug link matrix” at the New Bilibid Prison as announced last August 25 by President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.)
Entry filed under: News.