The Sandiganbayan First Division reset Tuesday’s trial of a former congressman in connection with the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel because prosecution witness Benhur Luy has been stricken with pneumonia.
The anti-graft court reset the trial of former Representative Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro to July 4 after the prosecution sought the postponement over Luy’s absence.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed three counts of graft, three counts of malversation, and three counts of direct bribery against Jaraula in 2015 in connection with the alleged misuse of his P50.5-million PDAF allocation from 2004 to 2007.
The PDAF was supposedly for financial as well as technical assistance through video courses and printed materials, but the projects were allegedly never implemented in the lone district of Cagayan De Oro.
Director Joefferson Toribio of the prosecution panel told the court that Luy, who was supposed to testify on cross examination, was advised by the doctor to rest for one more week due to pneumonia.
The court directed the prosecution “to be ready for another witness” if Luy would still not be able to testify in the next hearing”.
Aside from Jaraula, named co-respondents were: Janet Lim-Napoles; former Technology Resource Center Directors General Antonio Ortiz and Dennis Cunanan, as well as former TRC employees Marivic Jover, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, and Francisco Figura; Maurine Dimaranan, and; Mylene Encarnacion.
Former TRC employee Belina Concepcion faces one count of graft and one count of malversation.
Named respondents in two counts of graft and two counts of malversation were: former Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos; as well as Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, and Rosario Nuñez, who were DBM employees at the time material to the cases.
All the respondents are out on bail except for Ortiz who remains at large, and Napoles who is detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
MA. REINA LEANNE C. TOLENTINO