The complainants are seeking the immediate suspension without pay of Mabulo and the five barangay chairmen
Up for deliberation by the Office of the Ombudsman is a joint affidavit-complaint filed last September 8 by three members of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan against Mayor Fermin Mabulo of San Fernando municipality in Camarines Sur, along with five barangay chairmen, for alleged illegal quarrying.
The evidence attached to the affidavit-complaint alleged that Mabulo and his wife Michelle had long engaged in quarrying in the barangays where the DENR had banned such activity in 2021.
In the SB session of February 7, 2022, councilors said one of the trucks used in the quarrying belonged to Michelle Mabulo.
The mayor’s wife claimed her quarrying activity was legitimate and she had been paying municipal taxes for every trip of the trucks.
But a certification from the Provincial Treasury showed there was no record of such supposed tax payments made by the family-owned LDGM Construction and Supply Corp.
The complaint also alleged that Mayor Mabulo and the five barangay chairmen failed to stop the rampant illicit quarrying in their respective areas of jurisdiction despite repeated complaints by the town’s SB about the illegal activity, the use of government equipment for quarrying, and involvement of the mayor and his wife in quarrying as documented in the SB’s legislative sessions between July 2021 and February 2022.
Then there was the submission by Vice Mayor Allan Valenzuela of a letter-complaint to Malacañang in June 2021 about the numerous illegal quarrying sites in San Fernando town whose operators were in cahoots with at least two local officials.
The letter-complaint said 12 of the 14 quarrying sites in the town were “illegally operated,” and that the illicit activities continued despite several notices of violations served by the DENR Region V office to the operators.
The complainants accused Mabulo et. al. of violating the provision on “theft of minerals” of RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, for the extraction of minerals in San Fernando without any mining agreement, lease, permit or license issued by the DENR-MGB.
They also charged the respondents with gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for their failure to act on the illegal quarrying in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
The complainants accused Mabulo of violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and of illegally using public property (technical malversation) under the Revised Penal Code for the apparent use in illegal quarrying of a government truck – a Foton dump truck with conduction sticker GC 2412 — earlier issued to the municipal government for its official use.
The task force members charged respondents with violating Section 20 of CamSur’s Provincial Ordinance 30 series of 2014, as amended by PO 16 series of 2017, for the extraction of sand, gravel and other quarry resources without any permit issued by the Office of the Provincial Governor.
The three complainants said “grave injury” was done to the municipality, the province and the country in general because, in the absence of any authorization from the MGB to conduct quarrying in San Fernando, Mabulo did not pay the government an estimated P54.4 million in taxes due on P544.29 million worth of minerals believed to have been extracted by the mayor over the past several years.
The foregone revenue of about P54.4 million was based on the supposed taxes due the municipality equivalent to 10 percent of the fair market value per cubic meter of ordinary stones, sand, gravel, earth and other quarry resources extracted from public lands or from the beds of seas, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and other public waters within a particular territorial jurisdiction.
The computation of foregone revenue was based on a document issued by the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Camarines Sur.
The complainants asserted their case against Mabulo et. al. stands on strong legal ground because the respondents are liable for complicity or inaction on the DENR-flagged illegal quarrying in San Fernando, based on the Supreme Court’s previous rulings.
The complainants are seeking the immediate suspension without pay of Mabulo and the five barangay chairmen, as they cited Section 9 Rule III of the Ombudsman rules, which states that, pending investigation, respondents may be suspended for six months without pay if the evidence against them is found to be strong, and if they are accused of grave misconduct or neglect in the performance of duty.
The task force enforcers backed their Sept. 8 joint affidavit-complaint with ample evidence – DENR and provincial government documents, minutes of Sanggunian sessions, photos of quarrying sites and seized trucks, and police blotter reports and video clips of apprehended truck drivers admitting to have received their quarrying instructions from Mayor Mabulo himself.