Camarines Norte gov’s other sin
After 18 years, the Sandiganbayan convicted seven Quezon City Hall officials who approved the opening of Ozone Disco Club which was razed by a fire in 1996, killing 162 persons.
The officials can still appeal their conviction to the Supreme Court.
So, it may take another 18 or more years before these officials are finally convicted or acquitted.
By that time some of them shall have died of old age or sickness.
Such is our justice system.
Our justice system favors the rich and influential more than the poor.
The rich and influential—except in plunder, murder and other heinous crimes—stay out of jail on bail while their cases are being heard.
If the accused are poor and can’t afford bail, they languish in jail for the duration of their trial.
If the poor are found innocent, the government doesn’t even say, “Sorry, we made a mistake.”
This is not the United States, my friend, where people who were wrongly charged and acquitted could file for damages.
“Those who have less in life should have more in law,” said Ramon Magsaysay, who was the poor man’s president.
But Magsaysay’s words were just that—words.
And words are cheap.
The poor continue to have not only less in life, but less in law, as well.
The late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, a poor man’s government official like Magsaysay, ordered an investigation into the alleged plunder of mineral resources in Camarines Norte by Gov. Edgardo Tallado and members of the provincial board, or Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
Tallado, making the resolution of the Camarines Norte provincial board as basis, allowed the operation of large-scale mining in Paracale town by the Investwell Mineral Development Corp. (IMDC). The firm is reportedly owned by a Malaysian, Yii Ann Hii.
A law (RA 7076 known as the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991) forbids the use of explosives and deep digging by heavy mining equipment.
A provincial, municipal or city resolution can never supersede a national law.
Yii Ann Hii was heard to have bragged: “Philippine laws do not apply to me. I can change the law and buy any official of this country.”
The investigation that Robredo ordered has apparently stopped when he died in a plane crash.
Meanwhile, the plunder of the province’s iron ore continues without let-up.
The director of the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences in Bicol had questioned the issuance by Governor Tallado of the ore transport permits and mineral ore export permits, but was ignored.
Yes, this is the same Tallado whose wife ran away from their conjugal home for fear he would beat her up.
The governor was caught with his pants down with a young woman.
Instead of telling his wife, “Forgive me, I got tempted by a hot babe,” Tallado took the offensive and berated his wife whom he suspected of exposing his sex act with the young girl on the Internet.
At first, Tallado told the media his wife was kidnapped when she disappeared.
But when the wife surfaced later and revealed the governor’s maltreatment of her, Tallado made a public apology.
Now that Tallado’s alleged plunder of Camarines Norte’s mineral resources has been exposed, he should apologize to the Filipino people who own the country’s riches.