Roxas pal has 8 jets for his campaign
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2016 - 9:00am

Though low in the presidential surveys, Mar Roxas is soaring high in campaign aircraft.

Thanks to his billionaire-friend Francis Eric Gutierrez, the administration standard-bearer has the most modern jets at his disposal to stump the provinces.

One Citation Mustang worth $2.5 million; a Citation CJ4 worth $9 million; a Cessna Sovereign, $19 million; four Cessna Caravans, each worth $2.5 million; and one Bell 429 helicopter worth $6.5 million are among the aircraft whispered about in the small general aviation industry to be owned by Gutierrez.

Totaling $47 million, the aircraft are worth a staggering P2.3 billion.

Roxas, as Liberal Party president, gets to fly the jets the most, along with his vice presidential running mate and senatorial lineup.

Gutierrez’s first jet, a Cessna Mustang, was used to fly Noynoy Aquino during the 2010 presidential campaign.

Gutierrez’s known business is part ownership of SR Metals Inc. (SRMI), and its subsidiaries San R Minin and Galeo Mining Equipment Corp. The firms operate nickel quarries in Tubay, Agusan del Norte.

Congressman Edgar Erice, an LP officer and known Roxas financier, is a partner of Gutierrez in the mining firms. The firms gained notoriety for pretending to be small-scale, that is, using only shovels, pick axes, and wheelborrows. In actuality they employ heavy equipment and barges.

Small-scale nickel mines are limited to extracting only 50,000 metric tons of ore per year. During Erice’s chairmanship of SRMI, the environmentalist Caraga Watch sued the firms in 2006 for over-extracting.

Records from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Philippine Ports Authority show the three firms to be anything but small-scale. The 2006 to 2007 alone, they shipped out of Agusan to China 1.8 million tons of ore, worth P28 billion.

The firms were fined a mere P7 million for their environmental plunder.

The Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources then ordered the three closed in 2007.

Erice elevated the case to the Court of Appeals and eventually to the Supreme Court. The latter in June 2014 upheld the CA and DENR closures.

Reports reaching Manila from the Agusan hinterlands have it that the three mines still operate, however. Neither the municipal nor the provincial and regional authorities are enforcing the shutdowns, due to the mining operators’ strong influence in Malacañang.

Gutierrez is known to be close to P-Noy too.

He was last in the news as having provided the helicopter for the aerial video of a Batangas eco-farm of a businessman-friend of Vice President Jojo Binay. A guest of honor at the eco-farm’s inaugural, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV later accused Binay of secretly owning it.

Erice, for his part, was last in the news in Sept. 2015 questioning the citizenship of Sen. Grace Poe. That was right after Poe turned down Roxas’ invitation for her to be his vice presidential running mate.

Poe, Binay, and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte lead the presidential surveys.

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SHOUTOUT. Reader Rodolfo A. Lat of Quezon City complains about the concrete and plastic barriers that now line Metro Manila’s major roads: “I have to write to you in frustration because nobody in the government listens to us li’l folks. The DPWH and MMDA don’t seem to realize that those barriers do not discipline drivers as intended. The more barriers they use, the more the traffic intensifies. Why? Because the more the vehicles stay on the road. To ease the traffic, their aim should be to get the vehicles to destinations as fast as they can. Barriers will not do the trick, but slow down and block the vehicles even more. The barriers are like the plaques in our arteries that cause heart attack and slow us down. If they’re still not convinced, remove the barriers on either the north or southbound lanes of EDSA, and compare the two.””

Bobet Alip, on the admin’s negative campaigning (Gotcha, 8 Feb. 2016): “Dimming the light of others to make oneself shine, living in reflected glory, or deflecting the light to hide one’s wrongs – where will all this take our country?”

Thank you too, Michael Shrier, Max Hadana, Penny Trajano, Kevin Chong, Lorne Gaspar, Arturo Salvacion, Ben Jamias, Luke Capulong, Rick Delsadel, Mon Butang, Cesar Carpio, Ruth Marcial, Jerry P., Francisco J., Dr. Eddie G., Jose Ricardo, Jorge Tamayo. Apologies for misspelling Edgardo Lagmay.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

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