BI official denies extortion in black sand mining project
Raymund Catindig, Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) - October 7, 2013 - 12:00am

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines   â€“ The head of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Cagayan province has denied having something to do with the alleged extortion attempt that she and at least four others, including Gov. Alvaro Antonio, allegedly made in exchange for the processing of a black sand mining permit.

“I don’t know about it. We do not and never resort to extortion. But I will answer the issue once a (summons) reached us,” said Eva Antiporda, head of BI-Aparri district.

Antiporda was reacting to news reports that she, Gov. Antonio and Antonio Chumacod and Emely del Mundo of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), and one Randy Miranda are being summoned by the National Bureau of Investigation central office for alleged extortion on an American mining company.

Mario Ancheta, MGB director for Cagayan Valley, said he would conduct an inquiry on their two personnel being linked to the alleged extortion attempt.

“Definitely, I will ask the two about it. We will conduct an inquiry about it. We don’t resort to such an illegal scheme,” he said.  

Antonio could not be immediately reached for comment.

The American firm, represented by James Lee of Feiron Steel Inc., alleged in its complaint with the NBI that Antiporda and Antonio, through former Buguey town mayor Glicerio Antiporda, asked for P1.65 million for the firm’s dredging operation in the town.

The firm, according to reports, bagged a contract for a multimillion-peso dredging project along a stretch of the Cagayan River in Buguey town in 2005 but could not take off due to lack of a mineral processing permit or authority to quarry black sand. 

The amount being demanded by former mayor Antiporda, the company alleged, would be for the processing of a mineral processing permit and other documents and to pay the town’s eight councilors with P100,000 reportedly for them to endorse the project.

Lee alleged that the former mayor told him that P200,000 would also be given to the BI-Aparri district head for the processing of the documents.

The company was also allegedly asked to reserve $2 per ton of extracted sand as royalty for Gov. Antonio, while a separate royalty was also allegedly demanded by the former mayor and for the mayor’s office.

The BI official is the wife of the former mayor, whose children include incumbent Buguey town Mayor Lloyd Antiporda and former mayor Cerry Antiporda.

The MGB and the provincial government are responsible for the issuance of mineral processing permits for large-scale and small-scale mining projects, respectively. 

At least 10 foreign firms, according to the MGB, were given permits to extract black sand along Cagayan’s northern coastlines such as in the towns of Buguey, Aparri and Gonzaga.

The Church and other anti-mining groups in the province alleged that these firms have been operating under the guise of dredging, but are really only after the extraction of black sand.

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