Pangasinan gov Espino, 13 others charged with graft over black sand mining

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Maintenance workers clear debris from a river as a crane scoops up garbage from the Estero de San Miguel in Manila on Monday. The clean-up drive was implemented since Saturday to address water pollution and prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.(MNS photo)

Maintenance workers clear debris from a river as a crane scoops up garbage from the Estero de San Miguel in Manila on Monday. The clean-up drive was implemented since Saturday to address water pollution and prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.(MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 15 (Mabuhay) — Pangasinan governor Amado Espino Jr. and 13 other individuals were charged with graft by the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly engaging into illegal black sand mining in Lingayen Gulf.

In separate charge sheets filed before the Sandiganbayan on Monday, copies of which were released to the media on Tuesday, the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) charged Espino with two counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Charged with Espino for the same offense were provincial administrator Rafael Baraan and Provincial Housing and Homesite Regulation officer Alvin Bigay.

Also charged with the same offense were private individuals Cesar Detera, Edwin Alcazar, Lolita Bolayog, Denise Ann Sia Kho, Annlyn Detera, Cynthia Detera-Camara, Glenn Subia and Emiliano Buenavista who are all members of the Board of Directors of the Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures Inc.

Also charged were Michael Ramirez, Gina Alcazer and Avery Pujol, who are members of the Board of Directors of another company, Xypher Builders Inc.

Based on the information of the cases, Espino in conspiracy with Baraan, “gave unwarranted benefits, privilege and advantage” to Alexandra Mining by issuing in favor of it a Small Scale Mining Permit (SSMP) on June 29, 2011 despite lack of the necessary clearance certificates and accreditation.

The OSP said the issuance of SSMP had allowed Alexandra to illegally conduct “soil, magnetite and mineral extraction activities” in Barangay Sabangan in Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan despite the fact that it was supposedly not duly accredited or registered with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board or PCAB.

The OSP further alleged that the SSMP was issued to Alexandra despite the company’s lack of clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

The OSP said Alexandra also did not possess the required business permit from the municipality of Lingayen.

Meanwhile, the OSP said Espino, Baraan and Bigay also conspired in allowing Xypher Builders, through a Gratuitous Permit, to conduct soil, magnetite and mineral extraction activities in Barangay Sabangan despite the fact that the company was likewise not registered or accredited with PCAB.

Like Alexandra, the OSP said Xypher also failed to secure clearance certificates from the MGB.

Further, the OSP 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.”

The OSP recommended P30,000 bail bond for each count of the charged offense.(MNS)

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