LEGAL assistance will be provided to Joavan Fernandez, adopted son of Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez to defend him in criminal charges filed against him and two companions by a sand and gravel operator.
Joavan faces charges of carnapping and usurpation of authority filed by hauler Julius Abad. The mayor said Joavan and his companions are entitled to legal aid since they were doing their job as environment officers under the Vanguard team.
The Vanguard was created in 2004 through an ordinance by City Councilor Bernard Odilao.
Odilao said Vanguard members undergo training before they are deputized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The appointment is renewable every six months.
Mayor Fernandez said Joavan was appointed Vanguard chief with 15 to 20 members. He said Joavan’s team made several apprehensions and even pursued cases against violators in court.
But the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) this week clarified that they stopped deputizing environment officers on orders of President Aquino last Sept. 2011.
MGB-7 legal officer Gerardo Mahusay said Talisay City has its own ordinance to deal with illegal sand and gravel hauling. He said Talisay City is considered an entry point of illegal mining activities.
Also charged with Joavan were companions Jeffrey Sy and Benedict Gabasa.
They flagged down a truck carrying sand and gravel in barangay Lagtang, Talisay City last Friday and had it impounded in City Hall. The truck was later released by the police on orders of the mayor after Abad presented documents for it. /Gabriel C. Bonjoc, Correspondent