Sandiganbayan junks solon’s plea to defer graft rap arraignment

MANILA The Sandiganbayan has rejected the motion of Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., seeking to defer his scheduled arraignment in the graft case filed against him by House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

In a five-page resolution dated April 12, the Sandiganbayan 6th Division said that "it denies Floirendo's omnibus motion for leave in connection with his case for violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the 'Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act'.

The court resolves to deny the motion of the accused, the anti-graft court said in its resolution.

The Sandiganbayan set the arraignment of the Davao del Norte lawmaker on May 2.

The complaint against Floirendo arose from the consolidated joint venture agreement (JVA) between Tagum Agricultural Development Authority (TADECO), where Floirendo's family is a major stockholder, and its subsidiary Anflo Management and Investment Corp. (ANFLOCOR).

Alvarez argued that in 1969, TADECO entered into an agreement with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to lease a portion of land in the Davao Penal Colony to be used for the private company's banana plantation.

The consolidated JVA was executed in 1979 which extended the period of lease for 25 years and renewed in May 2003 for another 25 years.

At the time the contract was renewed, Floirendo was already a congressman of the 2nd District of Davao del Norte.

However, while Floirendo was serving as congressman in 2003, Alvarez alleged that Floirendo was also a stockholder of TADECO.

Citing data from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Alvarez said that Floirendo was also a board member of ANFLOCOR from 1997 to 2015.

Last January, the Office of the Ombudsman charged Floirendo before the Sandiganbayan after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales junked his motion seeking to reopen the case for submission of documentary and testimonial evidence.

Floirendo told the anti-graft court that he has sought the reconsideration of the Ombudsman on his case, arguing that his motion for reconsideration has yet to be resolved and the preliminary investigation is still unfinished.

The Ombudsman said the preliminary investigation has been completed when his appeal before the Ombudsman was denied on Dec. 28, 2017.

It added that Floirendo's appeal was already moot and academic when the anti-graft court issued a warrant of arrest against him.

In its resolution, the anti-graft court said Floirendo's motion for leave appears to be a second motion seeking a reinvestigation of the case on the ground that he was innocent and was denied of due process.

It cited Section 7, Rule II of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, which states that only one motion for reconsideration and/or reinvestigation can be filed in court.

The Sandiganbayan said Floirendo's motion will also be denied even without the Ombudsman guidelines, considering that the preliminary investigation had already been finished.

"Even if the instant motion is not prohibited under the Revised Guidelines, it must nonetheless be denied. There is no need to order the Office of the Ombudsman to complete the preliminary investigation because it has been completed," the anti-graft court said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency