Court defers graft trial of ex-CDO representative

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The Sandiganbayan’s First Division has reset the trial for graft and malversation charges against former Rep. Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro City in connection with his alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

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Jaraula’s lawyer Stephen Jaromay manifested during the hearing on Tuesday that they have not received the pre-trial order of the case, which the anti-graft court issued on the same day.

The trial will start on February 2.

A pre-trial order lists the number of hearing dates and witnesses as well as issues to be resolved during trial. Both the prosecution and the defense were given five days from Tuesday within which to file their comment on the pre-trial order.

Jaraula was one of five former lawmakers against whom the Office of the Ombudsman filed charges last February in connection with the PDAF scam.

Other accused included former Rep. Edgar Valdez of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperative, as well as former Rep. and now Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate, who face separate plunder and graft charges.

Meanwhile, Jaraula and former Representatives Samuel Dangwa of Benguet, and Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur face separate graft, malversation and direct bribery charges.

Jaraula allegedly received kickbacks totaling P20.8 million out of his P50.5 million PDAF allocation from 2004 to 2007 that was supposedly for financial and technical assistance through video courses and printed materials, which the Ombudsman found to be “ghost” projects.

Also named respondents were businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles; Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and DBM employees Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare and Rosario Nuñez; former Technology Resource Center Directors General Antonio Ortiz and Dennis Cunanan as TRC employees Marivic Jover, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Francisco Figura and Belina Concepcion; Maurine Dimaranan and Mylene Encarnacion.

REINA TOLENTINO

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