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Police director sacked over mining issues

DAET, Camarines Norte (June 30, 2012) - The sacking of the Camarines Norte provincial police chief now appears to have been ordered from the national leadership because of the latter's failure to stop mining operations in the province.

This week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Camp Crame office installed Supt. Jose L. Capinpin as officer-in-charge of the Camarines Norte Provincial Police Office (PPO) in replacement of former Police director Senior Supt. Joselito Esquivel.

The sacked police director found an ally in Camarines Norte Governor Edgar Tallado who scored the lack of due process in Esquivel’s removal from office while praising the former director's successes in anti-crime campaign in the province.

There are lingering reports that Esquivel was removed because of his failure to implement a moratorium on small scale mining in Camarines Norte ordered by Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo as mandated by a MGB-DENR directive issued early this year.

According to Camarines Norte police spokesman Police Chief Inspector Honesto Garon, two other police officers at the PPO were also relieved: police Supt. Lito Andaya, Chief of Intelligence, and Police Supt. Gadfredo Tul-O, chief of Operations division.

Last week a “whistle-blower” exposed over a TV network in Bicol that some police top brass and top officials in Camarines Norte, particularly in the mining town of Paracale, receive gifts of unprocessed gold nuggets called “sakada” in exchange for protecting the secret mining operations in over 150 mine pits in Paracale, particularly in the barangays of Palanas and Malaguit.

Gold content extracted from a bag of "sakada" would sell for over Php100,000, the “whistle blower” said.

In a tell-tale sign of Robredo's hand in Esquivel's removal, Gov. Tallado stressed “that Secretary Robredo should understand that small scale-mining cannot be totally stopped in Camarines Norte where 80% are dependent on mining for livelihood.”

The Governor is urging the national government to provide an alternative source of income for over 20,000 families who are dependent on small-scale mining. (SONNY SALES)