The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division has found basis to proceed with trial of a graft case filed against former Palawan governor Mario Joel Reyes and four others over the allegedly anomalous purchase of liquid fertilizers in 2004.
In a 13-page resolution promulgated on December 1, the court denied for lack of merit a motion that Reyes filed earlier seeking the dismissal of the case.
“Based on the records, there is sufficient evidence for purposes of establishing probable cause against Reyes. He is mistaken in claiming that there is no evidence to establish his responsibility and his participation in the conspiracy,” the court said in part.
It also denied a similar motion filed by another respondent, former Department of Agriculture (DA)-Regional Unit IV Executive Director Dennis Araullo.
“The foregoing evidence and discussion support a finding of conspiracy, of which Araullo is a part, and are sufficient to establish probable cause,” the court again said in part.
But it added, “Lest it be misunderstood, it should be emphasized that these discussions and determinations are merely for the purpose of determining the existence of probable cause. The final resolution of these matters should and will be threshed out in the trial of this case.”
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case in September, alleging that the respondents gave unwarranted benefits, privilege and advantage to the non-government organization Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. by supposedly approving the purchase of liquid fertilizers from MAMFI without public bidding.
Also named respondents were former DA-Regional Unit IV Officer-in-Charge Regional Technical Director Rodolfo Guieb and Marina Sula and Nathaniel Tan who were the then-MAMFI president and authorized representative, respectively.
In its motion, the Reyes camp argued that there is no evidence on record that shows he endorsed MAMFI and that he did not conspire with anyone to perform an act that was injurious or disadvantageous to the government.