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Ex-Palawan Gov. Reyes faces imprisonment over mining permit irregularity

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Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes has been sentenced to imprisonment after being found guilty of graft for having favored a mining firm in the issuance of a permit.

In its decision, the Sandiganbayan Third Division said Reyes, when he still governor of Palawan, gave unwarranted benefit to Olympic Mines and Development Corporation (OMDC).

Records showed Reyes issued a Small Scale Mining Permit to Olympic Mines and Development Corporation (OMDC) from April 6, 2006 to April 5, 2008 even though the firm mined and extracted the annual maximum of 50,000 dry metric tons of ore set in its previous permit.

“The caps were set in the Mining Laws to ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources,” read the decision.

“The role of the local government unit, through its chief executive, is to safeguard and conserve our natural resources,” the court stressed.

The court also said Reyes cannot deny ignorance since he was the signatory in all of the permits.

“As Governor of Palawan, his authority to approve small mining permits calls for the dual role of allowing the exploration and exploitation of, and conserving and preserving the natural resources within the provinces’ territorial jurisdiction,” it said.

“He chose to intentionally and wilfully ignore his responsibilities,” he added.