Lawmaker urges DENR chief to probe ex-official

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A lawmaker has urged Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez to investigate former Undersecretary Leo Jasareno for alleged corruption in the department.

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In a statement, Rep. Robert Barbers of Surigao del Norte (2nd District) Barbers accused Jasareno, former head of the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), of being “corrupt.”

He claimed that the former bureau chief had been dismissed by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

“It is very sad and unfortunate for the country that despite being dismissed by no less than the President, [Lopez] still retained Jasareno as her confidante and consultant,” Barbers said.

“Equally disturbing is the fact that she appointed Jasareno to head the audit of these mining firms, when Jasareno knew all too well that the violations were [happening]under his watch – for several years – but he deliberately turned a blind eye to these violations,” he added.

Barbers questioned the audit results concerning the other mining companies as the DENR’s auditing team was also headed by the sacked official.

He said some of the mining companies that were not closed by Lopez were “known friends” of Jasareno, describing it as a form of “hypocrisy.”

“[H]ow about those mining companies which were not closed and whose owners are known friends of Mr. Jasareno?” Barbers asked.

“His MGB was supposed to police the mining activities in the country, but now he is saying that these companies committed environmental violations,” he said.

Barbers added that the DENR chief should “open her eyes if she really wants to reform the graft-laden agency” and calls her “to be fair” and investigate her confidante “with the same zeal and vigor.”

In August 2016, Jasareno tendered his resignation amid calls of several anti-mining groups for him to do so.

He also led the audit teams that recommended the suspension of 20 mining operators and has been with the DENR even before Lopez assumed office.

DEMPSEY REYES

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