The Sandiganbayan on Wednesday has convicted Former Palawan governor Joel Reyes for graft and sentenced him from six to eight years in prison for issuing permits to an illegal small-scale mining in Puerto Princesa in 2006.
In 2011, Reyes was charged for issuing renewed permit to Olympic Mines and Development Corp. (OMDC) in April 2006, despite the company’s violations.
In a decision which was publicized on August 29, Reyes was found guilty of graft for allowing unwarranted benefit to OMDC in the renewal of a mining permit which was valid from April 6, 2006 to April 5, 2008. The mining firm’s previous permit, on the other hand, was only valid up to November 3, 2006.
According to the court, the firm already mined the annual maximum 50,000 dry metric tons (DMT) of ore in its previous permit. The renewed mining permit which was issued by the former governer allowed OMDC to further mine and extract ore even it already taken out its allowable amount for the year.
“Wherefore, accused Joel Reyes is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, and is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six years and one month, as minimum, with perpetual disqualification from public office,” the court said.
Meanwhile, the court also acquitted Adronico Baguyo, the Palawan provincial government mining operations officer, for the prosecution’s failure to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The court said that accused Reyes cannot fake ignorance of the exhaustion of its privilege by OMDC. It added that his authority to allow small-scale mining permits calls for the dual role of allowing the exploration and exploitation of, as well as conserving and preserving the natural resources within the province.