Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Quarry Industry

The governor’s new strategy in the method of collecting quarry tax has scored an enormous point when it turned around the quarry revenues in a period of 5 days.

Wow! 1 million pesos of quarry tax per day is a lot of money.

I have no credible figure how much the daily collection of Capitol from quarry tax was in the previous years to enable me make a more intelligent comparison.

I have, however, read one news report that the Capitol collected a mere 24 million pesos from quarry tax in the year 2002 or around 65,753 pesos per day, which is almost 15 times less than what Among Ed now collects on daily basis.

One can safely assume that more than 90% of the quarry tax collection did not go to the province coffers during the Lapid hegemony.

A while ago I was reading the Supreme Court case of Lito Lapid versus Court of Appeals and Ombudsman et. al. where Lapid was administratively charged for misconduct under the provisions of RA 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989).

The averment in the factual antecedents of the case reads in part :

“On Oct. 26, 1998, a complaint was filed charging petitioner Gov. Manuel M. Lapid, Vice-Governor Clayton Olalia, Provincial Administrator Enrico Quiambao, Provincial Treasurer Jovito Sabado, Mabalacat Municipal Mayor Marino Morales and Senior Police Officer 4 Nestor Tadeo with alleged “Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service” for allegedly “having conspired between and among themselves in demanding and collecting from various quarrying operators in Pampanga a control fee, control slip, or monitoring fee of P120.00 per truckload of sand, gravel, or other quarry.”

The Ombudsman issued an Order dated January 13, 1999 preventively suspending petitioner Lapid, Olalia, Quiambao, Sabado, Morales and Tadeo for a period of six (6) months without pay.

On Jan. 19, 1999, the Department of the Interior and Local implemented the suspension order.

On November 22, 1999 the Ombudsman rendered a decision in the administrative case finding Manuel M. Lapid, Clayton A. Olalia, Jovito S. Sabado and Nestor C. Tadeo administratively liable for misconduct. Marino P. Morales was exonerated from the same administrative charge for insufficiency of evidence. The complaint against respondent Enrico P. Quiambao was also dismissed.

The case went to the Court of Appeals and finally elevated to the Supreme Court. The High Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals in 2000 for its resolution on the merits. I read somewhere that the Ombudsman, the every office who suspended Lapid, dismissed the case prior to the 2004 senatorial elections on the ground that the complaint filed against Lapid et. al. was a mere “hearsay”.

Before the May 2007 elections, the then BM Lilia Pineda filed graft cases against Mark Lapid for alleged ghost deliveries of infrastructure. Much earlier, Guiao sued the younger Lapid for violation of anti-graft and corrupt practices related to the quarry anomaly.

I hope these cases would not end up being dismissed on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.

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