LINGAYEN, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has affirmed its decision to indict the governor of Pangasinan and two other dismissed officials for allegedly allowing black sand mining here in favor of unqualified contractors, putting an end to the long standing issue on the alleged black sand mining that pose a serious threat to the environment of the province in the future.
A 12-page order signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and graft investigation and prosecution officer II Jasmine Ann Gapatan said there is probable cause to charge three-term Gov. Amado Espino Jr., former provincial administrator Rafael Baraan and former provincial housing and homesite regulation officer Alvin Bigay with graft for their alleged involvement in the illegal black sand mining that will compromise the province’s environment considering that such illegal undertaking was given to unqualified contractors without passing through appropriate government procedures.
The order was issued on Jan. 11, but released last February 10 paving the way for the indictment of the incumbent governor.
“The officials of Xypher Builders Inc. knew that their company was not accredited by the Philippine Contractors Board, yet they negotiated, entered into and executed the magnetite extraction contract with respondents Espino and Baraan, making them conspirators and principals by direct participation or indispensable cooperation,” the order stated.
The company was granted a mining permit on Oct. 26, 2011. The ombudsman said the government lost P10.7 million for allowing the export of the extracted minerals to China.
The ombudsman also affirmed its finding of grave misconduct against Baraan and Bigay, who were dismissed from the service last year in connection with the case. It also ordered the cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service of the two former officials.
Espino, a member of the Liberal Party, is running for congressman in the fifth district of Pangasinan. He will challenge Kimi Cojuangco of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, who is seeking re-election.
By Herald Express News Team