Camarines Norte police chief, 2 officers relieved over illegal miningBy Jamie Marie Elona
MANILA, Philippines -The Camarines Norte provincial police director and two other ranking police officers were ordered removed from their posts following their alleged involvement in illegal mining activities, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said Wednesday.
Robredo identified the relieved officers as Senior Superintendent Joselito Esquivel Jr., Camarines Norte provincial director; Superintendent Lito Andaya, provincial Intelligence section chief; and Superintendent Godofredo Tul-o, deputy provincial director for operations.
Speaking to reporters during the launch of Local Government Watch, Robredo said that verified complaints from various groups from the province showed that Esquivel failed to implement the cease and desist order issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against illegal miners, adding that issuance of permits to small-scale miners continued despite the order imposed by the DENR.
“It indicated that there’s something fishy going on here and to my mind until you know, unless we correct it, it will not change,” Robredo said.
Andaya, on the other hand, was accused of operating a “cartel” that sells explosives that is being prohibited for use in small-scale mining.
“So we tried validating and based on our verification they are selling explosives…,” Robredo said,
He said a small group of miners protested earlier Wednesday against the removal of Esquivel—a happening that Robredo found “ironic.”
“That’s very ironic . . . the miners came out in support for the PD [police director] . . . This is strange,” Robredo said, adding that the event even raised questions.
“He [Esquivel] doesn’t deserve to be retained,” Robredo said. “I recommended the relief because if we allow it to continue, the people’s faith in the police is at stake.”
Robredo said all allegations against Esquivel and the two officials would be investigated, adding that the removal was done prior the investigation after some witnesses complained of being threatened.