For­mer gov­er­nor Reyes con­victed of graft

Business World - - THE NATION -

FOR­MER PALAWAN gov­er­nor Joel Reyes has been sen­tenced to a jail term of six years and one month to eight years af­ter be­ing found guilty by the Sandi­gan­bayan of vi­o­lat­ing the Anti- Graft and Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act by al­low­ing a min­ing firm to ex­tract more than it was al­lowed to.

But the graft court’s third di­vi­sion ac­quit­ted Mr. Reyes’ co-ac­cused, provin­cial min­ing of­fi­cer An­dron­ico Jara Baguyo, who headed the tech­ni­cal sec­re­tar­iat of the Provin­cial Min­ing Reg­u­la­tory Board, “for fail­ure of the pros­e­cu­tion to es­tab­lish his guilt be­yond rea­son­able doubt.”

The two were charged in Crim­i­nal Case No. SB-11-CRM-0088 of is­su­ing a small-scale min­ing per­mit in April 2006 to Olympic Mines and De­vel­op­ment Corp. (OMDC) “de­spite the fact that said pre­vi­ous min­ing per­mit is valid and sub­sist­ing up to Novem­ber 3, 2006 and even as said OMDC al­ready mined and ex­tracted the an­nual max­i­mum 50,000 dry metric tons (DMT) of ore set forth in its pre­vi­ous per­mit (or 100,000 DMT for the twoyear pe­riod), al­low­ing in the process OMDC to mine and ex­tract ore in ex­cess of the al­low­able limit; and de­spite OMDC’s vi­o­la­tions of its prior min­ing per­mit such as, but not lim­ited to: (1) over-ex­trac­tion of ore and (2) the use of heavy equip­ment in its min­ing op­er­a­tions which is pro­hib­ited by Repub­lic Act 7076 and Pres­i­den­tial De­cree 1899, as amended.”

In its de­ci­sion, the Sandi­gan­bayan third di­vi­sion said Mr. Reyes “acted with gross in­ex­cus­able neg­li­gence” by re­new­ing the min­ing firm’s per­mit when its pre­vi­ous per­mit was still in ef­fect, thus al­low­ing it “to ex­tract ore be­yond the lim­its al­lowed by law” de­spite pre­vi­ous vi­o­la­tions.

Mr. Reyes is also ac­cused, along with his brother Mario, for­mer mayor of Coron town, of mas­ter­mind­ing the mur­der of broad­caster and anti-graft cru­sader Ger­ardo Ortega, who was gunned down in Puerto Princesa City in Jan­uary 2011.

The two fled the coun­try be­fore a war­rant was is­sued for their ar­rest but were tracked down in Thai­land and re­turned to the Philip­pines in late 2015. In Septem­ber last year, Mr. Reyes was de­nied bail by a Palawan trial court. — in­ter­

2015 PNP photo of for­mer Palawan gov­er­nor Joel Reyes

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