SURIGAO del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers late yesterday afternoon urged President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to investigate the alleged nefarious activities of Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay.
In a privilege speech yesterday, Barbers said he was referring to alleged corporate identity theft, as well as the purported theft of minerals that has so far reportedly earned Pichay P86 million from a mining firm in Claver, Surigao del Norte.
“Mr. President, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I appeal to you on behalf of my constituents. You have promised to stamp out graft and corruption. Mr. Pichay’s violations are not being hidden, they are being committed openly for everyone to see, as if challenging us, yet insulting and mocking all of us. Your action, Mr. President, would be an eloquent fulfillment of your promise,” Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said in a privilege speech yesterday.
Reached for comment, Pichay vehemently denied the allegations as he challenged Barbers not to hide from “the cloak of congressional immunity in making wild accusations against him.”
“This is baseless and unfounded,” said Pichay.
Barbers also questioned the alleged deafening silence of Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez on how a long-suspended Claver Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC), which was allegedly fraudulently and forcibly taken over by Pichay, was still given permits to mine, haul and sell nickel ores.
“Contrary to her media pronouncements and actions of suspending mining companies left and right, here comes a long suspended mining firm illegally acquired by Mr. Pichay being given a new lease in life. I never thought that the DENR possesses the power to resurrect Lazarus from the dead,” Barbers said.
“Why did the Secretary (Gina Lopez) allow this to happen? Is it because the personality involved is a congressman? Does the good secretary know what is happening in her department? Or was she threatened that she won’t get the nod of the powerful Commission on Appointments if she goes against the will of the congressman?” he added.
According to Barbers, it is also not far-fetched that Lopez must have been allegedly pressured to commit unlawful errors by someone close to her, “maybe someone who is a consultant partner of Pichay who also happens to be connected with the DENR.”
Through supposed cunning manipulations, Barbers explained that Pichay was able to make the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mine and Geosciences Board, and a trial court believe that he is the rightful claimant and legitimate owner of a mining firm in Claver that belongs to other people.
He narrated that Pichay’s alleged illegal activities started in November 2015 when he pretended and claimed that he was the new president of the CMDC after buying substantial shares from its previous owner, a certain Ms. Fe Ligtas.
Known or unknown to Pichay, Barbers said Ligtas, from 2002 to 2006, had already sold all her shares to the Hervic Calo group and the Ireneo Cesar group.
The CMDC was earlier granted by the government a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement No. 103-98-XII, but its operation was ordered suspended by the DENR in 2012.