CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/29 October) – The City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed this afternoon the criminal complaints filed against two Chinese nationals earlier arrested by a joint anti-mining task force along the environmentally critical Iponan River in this city.
City Prosecutor Fidel Macauyag said the complaints were dismissed because of the non-participation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the lead government agency tasked to protect the
“How can this case stand up [sic] in court? The participation of the DENR is mandatory in the filing of this case because they are the lead agency tasked to protect the environment,” Macauyag said.
Chinese nationals Zhong Hengyuan, 43, and He Jiancheng, 42, both residents of the People’s Republic of China, were arrested by a joint DENR, Army and PNP task force while allegedly working on a barge in Barangay Pagalunga, this city last Oct. 25.
Engr. Daniel Belderol of the DENR Mines Management Division said the all of the 15 barges operating in Iponan River disguised as sand and gravel operations should be considered illegal since they were mostly mining for gold.
But the DENR did not file a complaint against the two Chinese nationals when they were brought to the police station in Barangay
Lumbia, this city.
Instead, it was the Sulog-One Sendong is Enough, an environment people’s organization, that filed the complaint against the suspects.
Sulog representatives Roldan Maglungsod and Ralph Abragan filed three criminal complaints for violations of Republic Act no. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, Republic Act No. 7076 or the Philippine Small Scale Mining Law, and Executive Order no. 074-2012 signed by Mayor Vicente Emano stopping all mining operations along Iponan River.
Macauyag said the DENR did not even send their office a letter saying that they have deputized Abragan and Maglungsod.
“I understand that the DENR was a member of the raiding task force but where is their complaint?” Macauyag said.
During the inquest proceedings against the two Chinese nationals, Macauyag said they also found several “deficiencies “ in
He noted that there was no affidavit of the arresting officer stating the circumstances under which the Chinese nationals were arrested.
He said there was no inventory of evidence to support the allegations.
“Where was the gold? There were no pictures of it. There was no police blotter. The respondents said there were some tools and extract of mines that were taken by the task force but there was no inventory of it,” Macauyag said.
Atty. Franco Espino, counsel for the Chinese nationals welcomed the dismissal of the complaints.
He said his clients were innocent of the accusations as alleged by Abragan and Maglungsod.
“My client was only eating breakfast when the task force members arrived. He was not doing anything illegal,” Espino said.
He said the task force did not find any gold that would prove that his clients were illegally mining for gold.
“Where is their evidence of gold,” the lawyer said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)