Pangasinan gov charged with graft

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BAGUIO CITY  – The Office of the Ombudsman yesterday filed graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino over black sand mining in Lingayen Gulf.

Indicted with Espino were former provincial administrator Rafael Baraan and former Pangasinan Housing and Urban Development coordinating officer Alvin Bigay.

Cynthia Camara, Lolita Bolayog, Cesar Detera, Edwin Alcazar, Denise Ann Sia Kho Po, Annlyn Detera, Glenn Subia and Emiliano Buenavista of Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures Inc. and Michael Ramirez, Gina Alcazar and Avery Pujol of Xypher Builders Inc. were also named respondents in the case.

The ombudsman affirmed its decision to indict Espino and the other respondents in January, noting that Presidential Proclamation 1258 issued in 1998 declared Lingayen Gulf as an environmentally critical area.

Investigation showed that on June 29, 2011, a small-scale mining permit was issued in favor of Alexandra Mining. The permit was later cancelled and the firm was ordered to vacate the area.

On Aug. 8, 2011, a memorandum of agreement was signed between Espino and Xypher Builders for the removal of metallic materials from the sand pile vacated by Alexandra Mining.

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Ombudsman investigators said Espino issued a mineral ore export permit in favor of Xypher which, along with Alexandra Mining, were not registered with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board.

The ombudsman said Espino and the other respondents should be held liable for authorizing unlawful magnetite extraction activities in favor of an unqualified contractor.

The ombudsman said the government also lost P10.7 million for allowing the export of the extracted minerals to China.

By Herald Express News Team

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