IBA, Zambales — Piecemeal charges filed by Consolidated Mines Inc. and its cohorts against Gov. Hermogenes E. Ebdane are more personal and political rather than legal, according to Atty. Ianela Jusi-Barrantes, lawyer of the governor of Zambales.
Jusi-Barrantes issued the statement in reaction to news reports that Ebdane is being charged with plunder before the Ombudsman.
The camp of governor decried the filing of the plunder charges against the Zambales official, pointing out that the complaint simply consisted of recycled issues that were just meant to inflict collateral political damage.
Atty. Jusi-Barrantes issued a stinging rebuke to private lawyer Reynaldo Bagatsing who filed the plunder case in connection with the operation of small-scale miners in Zambales to which the governor has given permits.
“It is unmistakable that grant of said small-scale mining permit (is) in contravention of Republic Act 7076, or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991,” Bagatsing was quoted as saying in his eight-page complaint before the Ombudsman.
In a one-page statement to the media, Barrantes said however that the complaint was only a demolition job intended to malign Ebdane.
“Consistent with the style of Consolidated Mines Inc. (CMI) and its cohorts, the filing of yet another charge—this time for plunder against Zambales Governor Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr.— was first published in the media before the governor was even informed or officially furnished with a copy of the purported complaint,” Barrantes said.
“The plunder charges, if one has actually been filed by a lawyer with no known connection with mining in Coto, Masinloc, Zambales, is nothing but a sequel (to) and offshoot of the charges field by CMI in July 2012 against Governor Ebdane with the Ombudsman, which, interestingly, was similarly highlighted by full media coverage,” she added.
“The allegations, as contained in the media reports are rehashed and recycled issues raising no new matters, but bringing in only new personalities,” Barrantes also said.
Ebdane’s lawyer also pointed out that the charges filed by CMI, which claims ownership of disputed mine tailings at the Coto Mines, “are more personal and political, with intent to discredit and damage the name of the governor, rather than legal.”
As such, “We will not glorify the charges, media coverage and all,” Barrantes said. “Instead, we will be answering all the allegations squarely in the proper forum, confident that the small-scale mining operations in Coto, Masinloc, is valid and legal, contrary to the claims of our relentless oppositors.”
Barrantes added that as a lawyer himself, complainant Bagatsing should “know fully well what plunder is, and what evidence he has—if any—to prove it.” -30-