SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Members of the House committee on good government and public accountability on Tuesday unanimously voted for the issuance of subpoena duces tecum and ad testificandum to Nueva Ecija Governor Cherry Umali, her husband former Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, and Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo for their continued failure to heed the invitation of the committee.
Panel chairman Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the committee deemed it necessary for the governors of Nueva Ecija and Negros Oriental to be present and give them the opportunity to address the issues raised pertaining to the quarry operations in their provinces.
The committee’s inquiry is based on House Resolution 1505, seeking an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the apparent corruption and irregularities in the imposition, collection, and distribution of taxes and fees from the quarrying operations in the province of Nueva Ecija and other provinces in the Philippines.
The resolution is authored by Reps. Ria Vergara, Micaela Violago, and Magnolia Antonino, and Arnolfo Teves, Jr.
During the hearing, Vergara presented a short video showing the extent of unabated quarrying and illegal logging that have affected Region 3.
Teves requested Pimentel to send an invitation to a certain Fred Hermoso, who was mentioned in the video, to attend the next hearing.
Vergara branded Hermoso as an alleged illegal quarrier.
Pimentel asked Nueva Ecija officials present during the hearing if there is indeed a certain Hermoso and if he has been paying sand and gravel fee to their provincial treasurer’s office.
Nueva Ecija Provincial Treasurer Rosario Rivera and Provincial Environment Office Head Engr. Wilfredo Pangilinan denied knowing the person mentioned in the video.
Vergara inquired why the quarry revenues were understated and going down when Cabanatuan City has been booming since 2009 and was even tagged by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) as the Best Mid-Size City to live.
Rivera said whatever the provincial government received and issued as receipts were the declared collections at the treasurer’s office.
Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Regional Director Lormelyn Claudio said that as of today, the EMB issued 42 notices of violation to six cities and municipalities in Nueva Ecija.
Claudio said the EMB also issued 56 notices of violations, which means the concerned operators have not secured the required Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs).
Pimentel requested all the resource persons to submit to the committee pertinent documents, including the list of permittees in the quarry operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Negros Oriental, Catanduanes and Cebu. (E Galvez)