Sandiganbayan affirms junking of Floirendo’s plea to dismiss case

The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the junking of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr.’s plea to dismiss the graft case against him in connection with his stake in the Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc.

In denying Floirendo’s motion for reconsideration to its Aug. 7 ruling, the court’s Sixth Division, in a seven-page resolution dated Sept. 11, said Floirendo’s argument on the supposed insufficiency of the allegations that he already used in his original motion to dismiss was merely rehashed.

Floirendo earlier pled not guilty to one count of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Floirendo’s case stemmed from Alvarez’s allegations of irregularities in connection with the Consolidated Joint Venture Agreement between Tagum Agricultural Development Authority, where Floirendo’s family is a major stockholder, and its subsidiary Anflo Management and Investment Corp., for the lease of land in DPC to be used as a banana plantation.

The Consolidated JVA was executed in 1979 which extended the period of lease for 25 years and renewed in May 2003, when Floirendo was already a congressman.

The Ombudsman found Floirendo’s interest in Tadeco violated Article VI, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that no legislator shall “directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government... during his term of office.”

But Floirendo said the Constitution does not intend to “absolutely prohibit members of the Congress from entering into commercial transactions with the government.”

He added he was only a “passive investor of an insubstantial amount” in Tadeco.

But the anti-graft court believed otherwise.

“Here, the Information alleges only the second mode by which violation of Sec. 3(h) of R.A. No. 3019 may be committed. “xxx, despite being prohibited by Article VI, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution from having such financial interest” is a sufficient allegation of facts constituting the third element of the offense,” read the resolution.

The resolution was authored by Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and concurred in by Associate Justices Karl B. Miranda and Kevin Narce B. Vivero.

Topics: Sandiganbayan , Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. , graft case , Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc.
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