Group asks Ombudsman to suspend Pangasinan Gov Espino over black sand mining operations

ANTI-BLACKSAND mining leaders from Pangasinan trooped the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City today as they filed a prayer for suspension against Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino over the issue of massive black sand mining operations in the province.

Led by the local group, AROMAS or Aro Mo Ako Sambayanan (Mahalin mo Ako Sambayanan), leaders cried foul over the series of harassments against their ranks being initiated by the alleged hired goons and armed forces of the provincial government.

Aside from their filed plea to suspend Espino from post today, AROMAS already filed administrative cases against their governor last January 13, 2012 before the Ombudsman in regards with abuse of authority, neglect of duty, violation of the local government code, and graft and corruption charges. The group also claimed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also issued a cease and desist order against the extraction of magnetite from the black sands in Lingayen last January 30.

AROMAS stresses that despite the DENR order, illegal mining activities of Governor Espino continues to cover numbers of barangays in Lingayen and San Fabian. Exportation and smuggling of black sands away from the shorelines of Pangasinan going to China are also being reported despite existence of the DENR’s seize and desist order.

‘We strongly urge Ombudsman Carpio Morales to decisively grant our appeal to immediately suspend Governor Espino from post over our raised concerns against illegal mining and quarrying operations in the whole province of Pangasinan. We also air strong alarm for the honorable Ombudsman to also act against the harassment cases against our ranks,’ says Vicente Oliquino, president of AROMAS.

Oliquino added, ‘The suspension of Governor Espino from office will automatically mean stoppage of this worst case of plunder to the environment, bureaucratic robbery of black sand in the province and physical harassments against individuals and organizations that are critical to these illegal activities of Governor Espino.’

The filing of the prayer for suspension against Governor Espino is done in a symbolic Halloween-inspired protest action in front of the Office of the Ombudsman today. AROMAS is welcomed by various national organizations including Akap Bata, Pamalakaya and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.

Finally, AROMAS also announces their plan of holding a two-day protest caravan from Pangasinan going here in Manila to troop the offices of the Ombudsman and the DENR on November 20 and 21 in time of the International Fish Day.

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