MANILA, July 3 (Mabuhay) – The former public works secretary and police chief of former President and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been indicted for graft and usurpation of official functions for allegedly issuing a mining permit beyond his mandate and favoring a mining company.
In a statement on Friday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to charge incumbent Zambales governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Revised Penal Code under the Usurpation of Official Functions.
In the 32-page resolution by the Environmental Ombudsman Team special panel, Morales also approved the indictment of Romelino Gojo, member of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), as well as private individuals Weng Chen, Camilo Esico and three others from Geoking Asia Mining Corporation (Geoking) for Theft of Minerals under Section 103 of R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995).
The indictment stemmed from the complaint filed by Consolidated Mines, Inc. (CMI), the mineral rights holder of the Coto Chromite mines. The CMI has been operating the Coto Mines for more than five decades.
Ebdane as Zambales governor allegedly issued the small scale mining permits to Geoking, allowing the officials to take, haul, transport and ship chromite fines valued at more than P211 million from Coto Mines where CMI is the mineral rights holder.
The complainant said on Oct. 30, 2011 that PMRB’s Gojo forcibly entered Coto Mines accompanied with a group of police officers headed by PNP Provincial Director Francisco Santiago, Jr.
Gojo then showed the mining permit signed by Ebdane in favor of Geoking’s Esico. the police then dismantled the security checkpoints of CMI and set up their own outposts along the road on the way to the chromite mine.
Gojo then threatened the CMI personnel and shouted: “Kung gusto ninyong magdemanda, idemanda ninyo si Governor Ebdane (If you want to sue, sue Governor Ebdane).”
The Ombudsman said Ebdane should be indicted for graft for unduly giving benefit to Geoking and for usurpation of powers for taking the functions of the PMRB when he issued the permits without authority.
Ebdane has been implicated in alleged manipulation of the results of the 2004 presidential elections. A former national police chief, he was accused by one of his trusted aides, Senior Supt. Rafael Santiago, of being behind the covert operation to switch ballots at the Batasang Pambansa complex during the canvassing of election results. (MNS)