Governor arrested over mining graft case
BUTUAN CITY—The governor of Agusan del Norte has been arrested for a graft case at the Sandiganbayan yesterday but wasn’t likely to spend time in jail after posting bail immediately after his arrest was made.
An antimining group in the province, who sued Gov. Erlpe John Amante for alleged irregularities in issuing permits to transport nickel ore out of Agusan del Norte, hailed the arrest, calling it a triumph for the environment.
Amante was at the Sandiganbayan yesterday to follow up his case and wasn’t allowed to leave when court officials decided to serve a warrant for his arrest.
Amante has been charged with alleged irregularities in permits to transport nickel ore that he issued to a mining firm based in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, from August 2006 to April 2007 beyond the allowable limit. He faces at least 15 years in jail.
“We consider this to be a high-profile case because a governor is a chief executive of a province,” the wire agency Agence France-Presse quoted a Rawnle Lopez, of the special antigraft prosecutor’s office, as saying.
AFP also quoted Estella Rosete, clerk of court, as saying Amante and two codefendants paid P90,000 in bail bond.
“The public will be keenly watching the case to see if (President) Aquino’s promise to crack down on corruption … will hold true,” AFP quoted lawyer Romel Bagares, executive director of Manila-based Center for International Law, as saying.
“You are seeing an incumbent official being hauled to court, a governor of a vote-rich region. That is definitely a big fish in the scheme of things,” Bagares added in the AFP report.
Amante was an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and is believed to have fortified his political base in Agusan del Norte.
The Church-backed Anti-mining Advocates of Tubay, alleged that Amante issued permits to transport at least 600,000 metric tons of nickel ore worth about $23 million to mining firm SR Metals Inc. Franklin A. Caliguid, Inquirer Mindanao with AFP
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