Two blocks of tea rose marbles loaded in two dump trucks were confiscated by the joint forces of the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO) and Angat police last Saturday afternoon, January 19, with the suspects managing to escape.
In a press briefing held on January 20, BENRO Chief Elizabeth Apresto and Angat Police’s Chief Inspector Isagani Santos released the plate numbers of the trucks carrying the the marbles. The trucks with plate number UQY-993 and UUQ-424 and were driven by Dennis Villarin and Jenel Dagon.
Authorities stopped the two vehicles at around 2 p.m. in Barangay San Roque, Angat.
A Toyota Fortuner with conduction number A5 0636 carrying a group of people headed by a certain “Mr. Sy” was escorting the two dump trucks containing the marbles.
Upon getting questioned by the authorities, it was learned that the marbles were owned by a certain Manolo Caiwan and allegedly donated to them by higher officials from DENR.
Apresto said that Sy was even able to present expired permit and other documents.
The marbles were taken from Biak na Bato, San Miguel also in Bulacan and part of the 160 tea rose marble sold by the provincial government to a certain Charlie Ang in 2011 for USD500 per cubic meter. Because of bad road to Biak na Bato, the marbles have not yet been claimed.
As part of an investigation and proper disposition of the marbles, the group headed by Sy, as well as the two truck drivers, were invited to the Bulacan PNP provincial headquarters only for them to escape unbeknownst to the police and BENRO officials.
They will face charges with violation of Republic Act 7942, the Mining Act of 1995 and Theft of Mineral Resources and Provincial Ordinance under the Revised Environmental Code.
The 10.7 cubic meter marble blocks with an estimated value of P 280,000 are now under the custody of the Bulacan PNP.
Bulacan governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado strictly implemented the protection of tea rose marble, one of Bulacan’s natural treasure, since he started his term in 2010 by banning the illegal extraction of the mineral deposits in the mountains of eastern Bulacan.
The Office of the President then granted the request of the governor that some 257 unclaimed blocks sold to Ang be turned over to the provincial government of Bulacan, subject to the terms of the DENR.