LGUs in the Philippines

Ombudsman suspends Nueva Ecija governor, but CA issues 60-day TRO

Joann Manabat

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Ombudsman suspends Nueva Ecija governor, but CA issues 60-day TRO

Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali

Governor Aurelio Umali's Facebook account

Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali and two others are accused of issuing quarrying permits without the required approval from the DENR

PAMPANGA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has issued a suspension order against Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali over his alleged illegal issuance of 205 quarry permits, but a Court of Appeals (CA) temporary restraining order (TRO) is likely to halt its implementation.

Umali, together with his wife, former governor Czarina Umali, and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Wilfredo Pangilinan were accused in an administrative complaint of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) turned over a copy of the order to the governor’s office on May 20. However, the governor did not receive the order on the same day since he was not in the office. He had a valid travel authority until May 21.

Umali confirmed with Rappler that on May 22, the Ombudsman and DILG separately served the same order. He added that the complaint and order to file a counter-affidavit from the Ombudsman were only received on May 15, barely a week prior to the preventive suspension.

The CA issued a resolution which granted Umali’s application for a 60-day TRO on May 22, the same day the suspension order was served.

“The plain copy tendered was our basis to go to CA to petition for TRO. We got the TRO late afternoon of the 22nd [of May], upon payment of the bond that was part of the order,” Umali told Rappler on Monday, May 27. 

“Kaya kami nakapag prepare ng petition promptly kasi May 20 palang may kopya na naibigay ang DILG sa aking provincial administrator na naging maagap namin pag-file ng petition for TRO nung 22nd na lumabas ng late afternoon ng araw din na yun,” Umali added.

(That’s why we were able to prepare the petition promptly because on May 22, the DILG had already given a copy to my provincial administrator which allowed us to promptly file a petition for TRO on the 22nd of May which came out late in the afternoon on the same day.)

Umali said he will still have to assess the orders the Ombudsman and the DILG and study the remedies allowed by law.

The complaint was filed by Roberto Duldulao, a concerned citizen from Cabanatuan City. It stemmed from the rampant issuance of quarry or sand and gravel permits without the mandatory Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the Department of  Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from 2014 to 2018. 

The Ombudsman’s order cited the House of Representatives Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability’s committee report 967, which stated that the Umalis required the submission of local environmental clearance certificates (LECCs) instead of the ECC prior to the issuance of sand and gravel permits which is a “clear circumvention of the law.”

Pangilinan conspired with the Umalis in the commission of the unlawful act by his continued observance and issuance of recommendation for the approval of quarry permits with the LECC, the order stated.

The provincial government also collected taxes on the extracted sand and gravel but the shares of the taxes of the local government units concerned were not released.

Under the Local Government Code of 1991, local governments are entitled to gross earnings from mining taxes, royalties from mineral reservations, forestry charges, and fees and revenues collected from energy resources in their areas. Based on the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, an excise tax of 4% is imposed on the extracted minerals or quarry resources based on the actual market value of the gross output of the products at the time of their removal. 

In addition, the committee also noticed “glaring disparity” in the actual tax collections for sand, gravel and other quarry resources between Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. The latter’s land area is over twice that of Pampanga’s, which is an “indication of incorrect declaration of income on the sand and gravel,” the committee report said. 

Umali is currently serving his second term. He replaced his wife who served as a governor from 2016 to 2019.  – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!