• Pangasinan gov, others face graft raps

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    Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr. and provincial administrator Rafael Baraan are facing two anti-graft cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly authorizing two unqualified firms to extract black sand from the Lingayen Gulf area in 2011.

    In the first graft charge, also accused along with Espino and Baraam, are Provincial Housing and Homesite Regulation Officer Alvin Bigay, as well as former members of the Board of Directors of Xypher Builders Inc: Michael Ramirez, Gina Alcazar, Avery Pujol, Cynthia Camara, and Lolita Bolayog.

    In the second graft case, also named respondents are former members of the Board of Directors of Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc: Cesar Detera, Edwin Alcazar, Bolayog, Denise Sia Kho Po, Annlyn Detera, Camara, Glenn Subia, and Emiliano Buenavista.

    Asst. Special Prosecutor II Lalaine Benitez, in filing the case alleged that the respondents gave unwarranted benefit, privilege or advantage to Xypher Builders Inc. and to Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc. that caused undue injury to the government.

    The firms were allegedly authorized to conduct soil remediation and/or magnetite and mineral extraction activities within Barangay Sabangan in Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan even if they were “not lawfully entitled to conduct mining activities within said protected area.”

    Said firms were allegedly not duly-accredited by or registered with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board and the mining activities lacked the required area clearance from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

    Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc. also did not possess any business permit from the Municipality of Lingayen, the Ombudsman alleged.

    It was added that “Baraan, upon authority of accused Espino” issued a Gratuitous Permit and that the governor issued a Mineral Ore Expert Permit in favor of Xypher Builders Inc.

    Based on the charge sheet, Xypher Builders Inc. was thus allegedly allowed to unlawfully sell to DH-Kingstone Holdings Co. Ltd and/or export minerals to China worth P10.75 million which, the Ombudsman said, was the amount of undue injury suffered by the government.

    Also, “Baraan upon authority of accused Espino” allegedly issued a small-scale mining permit in favor of Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc.

    The Ombudsman recommended P30,000 bail for each count of graft charges for the respondents’ provisional liberty.

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