By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
After being found guilty of providing fake quarry coupons, which were used for the extraction and delivery of sand and gravel by private operators, the appeal submitted by Melvin Ibañez of Kabankalan City was junked by the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO).
According to a letter penned by Provincial Environment Management officer, Atty. Wilmon Peñalosa, the case has been recommended to the Provincial Treasurer’s Office (PTO) in order to “conduct further investigation into the matter.”
He had previously noted, the issuance of coupons falls under the jurisdiction of the PTO.
Ibañez has earlier been found guilty of issuing “fake permits” in Barangay Urong, Kabankalan City.
He responded last month by calling on Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. to intervene on the matter, noting the cease and desist order issued by the PEMO has disrupted operations at his quarry, resulting in a substantial loss of income.
Ibañez also cited businessman Benjamin Roy Guirmela, who was caught issuing fake quarry coupons in Talisay City, whose order was lifted last November.
Peñalosa, however, said the Guirmela case pertained to two tax ordinance violations, while Ibañez was accused of 3,049 violations. He added, the former’s violations cover a span of a day’s transactions, while the latter spans a period of nearly three years.
Meanwhile, according to Negros Occidental Provincial Legal Office (PLO) head, Atty. Jose Ma. Valencia, Ibañez’ offer for a settlement violates the tax ordinance. Under the ordinance, each violation carries a penalty of P15,000, which means Ibañez must pay the provincial government about P45 million in penalties.
Valencia said a case regarding falsification of public documents is criminal in nature and appropriate charges will be filed within the week.
Last June, Valencia said the PEMO was contacted to reclassify the investigation from an administrative proceeding to a criminal case of falsification of public documents.
Based on a report at the time, the provincial government lost as much as P800,000 in revenue from fake coupons./DGB, WDJ