• Ex-Palawan governor belittles graft case

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    FORMER Gov. Joel Reyes of Palawan wanted to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence of state prosecutors in line with his graft charge over a mining-related lawsuit.

    In a 10-page leave of court, Reyes said that the evidence of the Office of the Ombudsman “miserably failed to prove” the graft case of Reyes.

    The former provincial chief stands trial, together with Adronico Baguyo, mining operations officer of Palawan, related to the submission of small scale mining permit 37-1 that allowed Olympic Mines and Development Corp. to extend its operation from April 2006 to 2008, notwithstanding that the company already mined 50,000 dry metric tons of ore before the permit’s renewal.

    Reyes said that mining permit 37-1 should not be accepted in the court as there is “no rule or law that prohibits such grant, issuance or renewal” of permit.

    Eight exhibits of the Ombudsman were also issued to “Platinum Group Metals Corp. and Olympic Mines and Development Corp.”

    “Thus, they are incompetent to prove that Olympic Mines committed the over-extraction,” Reyes through his defense lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said, adding that what is stated in the charge sheet is Olympic Mines, not Platinum Group “and” Olympic Mines.

    Because of this, the evidence of the Ombudsman are irrelevant and immaterial to the allegations in the information as much as it is “grossly misleading.”

    Without proof of the alleged over-extraction on the part of Olympic Mines, the alleged favor of Reyes in giving the mining company “unwarranted benefits . . . is rendered equally unproven.”

    Also, an order from the late Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes is only a certified true copy and has not been identified by any witness, “hence, barred by the best evidence rule.”

    However, the Ombudsman said that mining permit 37 of Olympic Mines had not yet expired and was still good until November 2006 when permit 37-1, which renewed permit 37, was issued in April 2006.

    Fiscals reiterated that their evidence showed that from May 2005 to April 2006, Olympic Mines had already mined and extracted 107,900 dry metric tons of ore under permit 37.

    Because of Reyes’ renewal of the mining permit, the company was able to extract a total of 111,829.35 tons of ore, in excess of the allowable 50,000 tons.

    “For over-extraction alone, Olympic Mines should not have been issued another permit,” the Ombudsman said.

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