• Ombudsman urged to decide suit vs Pangasinan gov

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    Barangay officials and residents of Lingayen, Pangasinan have urged the Ombudsman to hasten the resolution of their criminal complaint against provincial officials led by Gov. Amado Espino Jr. and officers of Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures and Xypher Builders Inc. for alleged illegal black sand or magnetite mining operations in the guise of an eco-tourism project in the province.

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    “We hope there will soon be a resolution to the case we filed in January 2012. We want a legal precedent that would disallow black sand mining in our province,” Vicente Oliquino, president of the anti-mining group Aro Mo Ako Sambayanan (Aromas) who wrote the office of the Ombudsman on Monday.

    “We have been waiting for a ruling for more than two years now,” said Oliquino, a member of the council of Barangay Sabangan, Lingayen.

    Reports from the ground pointed to the continuous extraction of black sand along the Lingayen shore to this day, however.

    Oliquino earlier tagged Espino as the “black sand king of Pangasinan.”

    In their 12-page complaint in 2012, the village officials and residents said officers of the firms Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures Inc. and Xypher Builders Inc. were liable for mining laws.

    The complainants accused Espino, Lingayen Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan, consultant Eric Acuna, Pangasinan housing officer Alvin Bigay, and several village captains of conspiring to allow the illegal magnetite mining.

    Espino gave Xypher a gratuitous permit but the document specifically disallows the extraction of materials in onshore areas within 500 meters from the coast and 200 meters from the mean low tide level along the beach.

    The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau in Region I has ordered Xypher to pay P50,000 in penalty for operating without environmental compliance certificate.

    The DENR also issued a cease-and-desist order against black sand mining operations of Alexandra Mining and Xypher Builders on the coastal areas of Lingayen Gulf in barangays Sabangan, Malimpuec, Capan–danan and Estanza.

    EMB Regional Director Joel Salvador said under DENR Administrative Order 2003-30, golf courses have been classified as environmentally critical projects, thus requiring an ECC.

    “Even assuming that the area was not a part of environmentally critical area, the company’s activities for the purpose of establishing a golf course still needs an ECC,” Salvador said.

    The golf course is part of an eco-tourism project of the provincial government of Panga–sinan in the villages of Sabangan, Estanza, Malimpuec and Capan–danan in Lingayen.

    Earlier, former Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna sought a probe into the alleged illegal magnetite mining in Pangasinan.

    Casiño expressed alarm that the mining operation was threatening to destroy the Lingayen Gulf itself.

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