Mining board exec open to probe-A A +A
Friday, August 8, 2014
A MEMBER of the City Mining Regulatory Board (CMRB) body is willing to undergo investigation to clear him from alleged unethical and violation on any mining law.
“I have nothing to hide. I did not do anything illegal and I am willing to be scrutinized to prove it,” CMRB member and Sulog representative Ralph Abragan said Friday over the phone.
Abragan is also connected with Sulog, a local environmental group.
The issue started when Abragan was accused of being “unethical” for having a business in mining when he is also a member of the CMRB.
“It is true that I have a business in mining and it started since 2006. But, it is legal and I have documents to support it,” Abragan said.
He was referring to his current mining business, the Northern Consolidated Trading (NCT) that does organic mineral mining such as the extraction of rock sulfate; coal is an example.
The business, he added, had transactions with the alleged Firm Builders Realty Development Corporation (FBRDC), the developer of Silver Creek Subdivision in Barangay Canitoan, which he did not deny and even explain further that their three properties, owned by his family, are part of the construction and expansion, thus, involving him in the transaction.
“The titled properties were owned by my grandparents which I inherited. Since FBRDC develops the land affecting the three properties I own, in effect, I have legitimate dealings with them. Is there a law that prohibits me to deal with somebody else?” Abragan said.
Abragan added that a barangay chairman endorsed to him another barangay official who was interested in the mining business.
“As a private businessman, I approved but I told him to run an official quarry by getting a permit from the CMRB. It was later [that] I knew that he did not have the permit yet but [still continued to operate]. It was therefore illegal,” he said.
Abragan, as the chairman of the technical working group of the CMRB, issued a letter to first district representative Orlando Uy who he alleged to be “well-connected” with the barangay official.
“It is by public eye and knowledge that Uy contributes a lot to the illegal activity of the barangay official. Iyaha man nga tao and everyone in the barangay knows that he supplies the trucks and other mining equipment or vehicle used,” he said.
As reply to the CMRB’s query, lawyer Evangeline Tadlas-Carrasco, Uy’s legal counsel, stated “Our client is wondering why, this letter was addressed to its office, when its office nor himself (Uy) has nothing to do with the said illegal activities. Your letter invokes general statements, without specifying who are the proprietor, operator and/or owner of the said quarry.”
Also in the letter, Carrasco asked if Abragan is the owner of the NCT.
Abragan insisted that he was, in some way, was accused by Rep. Uy.
“I was only asking. I did not accuse. Ngano balihon man na ako ang nag-accuse sa ilaha?” he said.
‘Anomalous and trumped-up’
Abraganan also accused the CMRB saying the approval of the illegal mining activity of the barangay official was allegedly anomalous.
“First of all, the barangay official is found to be guilty and there was a barangay hearing months before. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has a violation report on that. Ironically, he (barangay official) is the chairman on the committee of environment in their barangay, yet he runs an illegal mining activity. Who now is unethical?” he added.
Abragan said he has documents to support that CMRB has alleged anomalous transactions.
“There is already a conflict of interest that they (CMRB) saw. Why did they still pursue giving permission to the illegal mining business to operate?” he said, adding: “There are many resolutions in CMRB that were lost, there is an anomaly there.”
Stopping the accusations
Sulog chairman Orlando Ravanera said he will call for a dialogue among the group’s members.
“On Monday (August. 11), I [will] call all the Sulog members. We settle this one among ourselves because it is an internal problem. We do not need to go the media and rant everything there. The problem is trivial and can be talked [over],” Ravanera said.
Ravanera fears that with Sulog members fighting, their “enemies” might find it a great advantage to them.
“Kay tungod gakabungkag (Because they see we are divided), the illegal miners and illegal loggers might take this as an advantage. No, it won’t if we have this dialogue and settle this one. We do not want Sulog to be mistrusted by the public,” he said.
If Abragan is to be found guilty, Ravanera said he will be replaced with another Sulog member to represent in the CMRB board.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 09, 2014.