Guv Espino pleads ‘not guilty’ to graft charges in mining mess
Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. pleaded ‘not guilty’ to two counts of graft in connection with the alleged illegal mining of black sand in the Lingayen Gulf area in 2011.
Espino was arraigned before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division on July 14, 2016 after the court upheld that there was probable cause to indict him.
Based on the rap sheets, the provincial government issued Small Scale Mining Permits (SSMP) to two companies in 2011 even though they lacked the necessary clearance certificates and accreditation.
The SSMP allowed both Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures Inc. and Xypher Builders Inc. to illegally conduct soil, magnetite and mineral extraction activities in Barangay Sabangan in Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan.
The Office of the Ombudsman, which filed the cases, found that both companies were not duly accredited or registered with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB), did not possess the required business permit from the municipality of Lingayen, and had no clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
The Ombudsman also discovered that Espino issued a Mineral Ore Export Permit to Xypher, which allowed it to sell the illegally-mined minerals for P10.7 million to China-based DH-Kingstone Holdings Co. Ltd.
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