Preventive suspension sought for Davao del Norte Rep. Floirendo over graft case

THE prosecution is asking the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division to preventively suspend Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. pending litigation of the graft case filed against him.

He is facing a case for allegedly having financial interest in the renewed agreement between the Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. (Tadeco) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in 2003.

“In the present case, there is no dispute that the accused is an incumbent public officer, being a member of the Seventeenth (17th) Congress of the House of Representatives as representative of the 2nd District of Davao Del Norte. It is, likewise, undisputed that the accused was charged with a violation of Section 3 (h) of RA 3019, which is one of the offenses under Section 13 thereof that would warrant the suspension of the accused pendente lite,” the prosecution said in a motion.

Section 13 of Republic Act (RA) 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) mandates the preventive suspension of incumbent public officers who are facing a valid graft charge.

According to the prosecution, the validity of the Information (charge sheet) is no longer in question.

The prosecution said in part that “it must be noted that the accused has not even challenged, through a proper Motion to Quash, the validity of the subject Information, and has, in fact, been arraigned on 25 May 2018.”

The Ombudsman accused Floirendo of violating Section 3(h) of Republic Act (R.A.) 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), alleging that he had “direct and/or indirect financial interest in the 21 May 2003 Agreement between” BuCor and Tadeco, “in which company he then” supposedly “owned” 75,000 “shares of stocks worth” P7,500,000…”

Floirendo, who is out in bail, pleaded not guilty during the arraignment.

“Not being a substantial stockholder of Tadeco at the time it entered into a contract with BuCor, respondent-movant maintains that he did not breach the constitutional provision and thus there is no probable cause to indict him for Sec. 3(h) of RA 3019,” according to the Ombudsman’s Order dated December 28, 2017.

But the Ombudsman said in part in its Order — wherein it maintained its finding of basis to file the case — that “[t]he two provisions are entirely independent of each other and should both be complied with by” members of the House of Representatives. REINA TOLENTINO


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