Ombudsman affirms Pangasinan governor's indictment for ‘graft’

>> Friday, February 19, 2016

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – The Office of the Ombudsman has affirmed its decision to indict the governor of Pangasinan and two other dismissed officials for allegedly allowing black sand mining here in favor of unqualified contractors. 
A 12-page order signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and graft investigation and prosecution officer II Jasmine Ann Gapatan said there is probable cause to charge Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr., former provincial administrator Rafael Baraan and former provincial housing and homesite regulation officer Alvin Bigay with graft.  
The order was issued on Jan. 11, but released only Thursday.
“The officials of Xypher Builders Inc. knew that their company was not accredited by the Philippine Contractors Board, yet they negotiated, entered into and executed the magnetite extraction contract with respondents Espino and Baraan, making them conspirators and principals by direct participation or indispensable cooperation,” the order stated.
The company was granted a mining permit on Oct. 26, 2011.
The ombudsman said the government lost P10.7 million for allowing the export of the extracted minerals to China.
The ombudsman also affirmed its finding of grave misconduct against Baraan and Bigay, who were dismissed from the service last year in connection with the case. It also ordered the cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service of the two former officials. 

Espino, a member of the Liberal Party, is running for congressman in the fifth district of Pangasinan. He will challenge KimiCojuangco of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, who is seeking reelection.


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