PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has boasted that there was not a single incident of corruption under his administration, noting that public funds were well guarded under his watch and were spent diligently.
“Maipagmamalaki po natin sa daang matuwid ‘no na hindi kami ni minsan nangurakot [I am proud to say that under the straight path, never once did we steal],” he declared during a recent late night meeting with supporters in Caloocan City (Metro Manila) led by Rep. Edgar Erice.
Daang matuwid (straight path) is the good governance mantra of the Aquino administration.
To prove his point, the President cited the doubling of government funding for public works projects in Caloocan City from P1.54 billion from 2005 to 2010 to P3.16 billion from 2011 to 2016.
Among the projects he named were the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road, NLEX Harbor Link-Segment 10, North-South Railway Project North Line and C-3 Road.
Aquino was all praises for Erice who, ironically, has been accused of a number of anomalies involving mining activities in Mindanao.
Erice is reportedly a co-owner of controversial mining firm SR Metals Inc., which was even given an enviromental award by the President a few months ago.
Erice and his partner, businessman Eric Gutierrez, are two of the top campaign contributors of the Liberal Party (LP).
The mining firm had been accused to have violated conditions of their small-scale mining permits since 2005.
Erice, a member of the LP’s national executive committee, is also alleged to be a “godfather” or protector of a group of erring mining companies.
He had admitted to being a shareholder in Gutierrez’s firm and its subsidiaries San R Mining and Construction Corp. and Galeo Equipment and Mining Co. Inc., which have been the subject of complaints of residents in Agusan del Norte town of Tubay.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which led a ‘multi-disciplinary’ environmental audit of several Tubay barangay (villages), the mining companies have depleted mineral deposits by excessively extracting up to two millions of nickel ore every year.
The gross violations apparently have continued and gotten worse since 2010.
JOEL M. SY EGCO