Mining mess: Pangasinan solon Espino’s suspension sought
The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division to suspend Pangasinan Fifth District Representative Amado Espino, who has been charged with two counts of graft over the alleged illegal mining of black sand in the Lingayen Gulf area in 2011.
In a motion filed before the anti-graft court, the Ombudsman said that it is invoking its “mandate of the law for the suspension pendene lite of the abovementioned accused pending litigation”.
The Ombudsman said that Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act provides that “any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act…is pending in court shall be suspended from office”.
Based on the charges, Espino–in his former capacity as Pangasinan governor–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). They also 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 to DH-Kingstone Holdings Co. Ltd. based in China to the tune of P10.7 million.
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