• Eric Gutierrez, Congressman Erice seem to be above the law

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    Another glaring example of the Noynoy administration’s propensity for selective justice is its failure to respond to the issue involving the President’s campaign financier Francis Enrico “Eric” Gutierrez and House representative Edgar Erice of Caloocan City.

    If Noynoy intended to disprove there is double standard in dispensing justice fairly, then he should have acted on the long-standing complaint of the residents of Tubay, Agusan del Norte against Gutierrez and Erice’s illegal and excessive ore mining operations.

    But Noynoy has chosen to ignore the grievance of Tubay’s indigenous community leaders and environmental advocates, against the abuses of Gutierrez’ mining group, the San Roque Metals, Inc. (SRMI) and its two subsidiaries.

    Neither criminal charges nor administrative sanctions brought about since a Supreme Court decision in June last year upholding an earlier Court of Appeals ruling, dismissing SRMI’s justification of its violations, have stopped the illegal activities.

    The Tubay folks are hoping that a Senate inquiry “in aid of legislation” might stop the destructive mining and prompt the Department of Justice or the Office of the Ombudsman to prosecute Gutierrez and Erice.

    Erice clearly has long violated the provisions Republic Act 6713 on “conflicts of interest.”

    Conflict of interest arises when a public official or employee is a member of a board, an officer, or a substantial stockholder of a private corporation or owner or has a substantial interest in a business, and in the interest of such corporation or business, or his rights or duties therein, may be opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of official duty.

    RA 6713 also states that when a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within 30 days from his assumption of office and divest himself of his shareholdings or interest within 60 days from such assumption.

    Divestment is the transfer of title or disposal of interest in property by voluntarily, completely and actually depriving or dispossessing oneself of his right or title to it in favor of a person or persons other than his spouse and relatives.

    The official website of the 16th Congress indicates that Erice remains as SRMI director which began in 2005, the same year he assumed as vice mayor of Caloocan City.

    But the lawmaker seems to think he is “above the law,” and so does his partner in crime, Gutierrez.

    The fourth-class coastal municipality with over 20,000 population has endured SRMI group’s excessive mining of nickel ore since 2004.

    The Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with the help of University of the Philippines geologists surveyed SRMI’s mining sites, and found that Gutierrez’ firms violated the conditions of their small-scale mining permits, particularly the provision limiting each company’s extraction of nickel ore to 15,000 metric tons annually.

    Aside from tripling SRMI’s quota by operating two sister companies, the San R Mining and Galeo Equipment and Mining Corp., the group extracted and shipped out 1.8 million metric tons of nickel ore from August 2006 to September 2007, according to the MGB and the Philippine Ports Authority.

    Gutierrez and Erice’s partnership has reportedly hauled tens of billions of pesos in profits for exporting nickel ore, a raw material for manufacturing metals.

    When the Noynoy administration took over in 2010, Tubay’s folks believed that the abusive mining had come to an end. They were mistaken.

    Gutierrez turned out to be one big milking cow of Noynoy and Mar Roxas’ Liberal Party for their campaign funds.

    Matuwid na Daan was already crooked before it began.

    With elections coming up in less than a year, the shrewd mining businessman is rewarding Erice and the LP in exchange for their protection in his gross mining violations.

    Damn, these culprits should be hanged!

    etulfo2011@gmail.com

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