Court to try graft, malversation cases filed vs ex-Nueva Ecija lawmaker, other individuals

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THE Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division has found basis to try the graft and malversation charges filed against former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino and other individuals in connection with the alleged misappropriation of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel allocation totaling P14.55 million in 2007.

“After personally perusing the Information in the present cases, and evaluating the Ombudsman’s Resolution, the above cited evidence in support thereof, and the records of the preliminary investigation attached thereto, the Court finds that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause for the purpose of issuing warrants of arrest against the accused,” the court said in a nine-page resolution promulgated on November 28.

Information is charge sheet.

The court no longer issued arrest warrants against Antonino and former Agriculture Secretary and now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap because they have posted bail for their provisional liberty.


Charged with graft along with Antonino (named respondent in two counts) were: Yap (two counts); Alan Javellana (two counts), Rhodora Mendoza (two counts), Encarnita Munsod (two counts), and Maria Ninez Guañizo (one count), who were formerly from the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), and; Marilou Antonio (two counts) and Carmelita Barredo (two counts).

Charged with malversation along with Antonino (names respondent in two counts) were: Yap (two counts), Javellana (two counts), Mendoza (two counts), Munsod (two counts), Guañizo (one count), Antonio (two counts), and Barredo (two counts).

According to the charge sheets, Antonino allegedly “unilaterally chose and indorsed” the supposedly “unaccredited and unqualified” non-government organization Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI) as project partner in implementing the PDAF-funded livelihood project for barangays (villages) in Nueva Ecija’s fourth district.

The project pertained to the “purchase and distribution of sets of livelihood technology kits or LTKs,” based on the charge sheets.

The first graft case and malversation case involved at least P13.095 million. The Office of the Ombudsman alleged that the accused then-public officials’ supposed acts “allowed Antonio, through BMMKFI, to take possession of and thus misappropriate said PDAF-drawn public funds, instead of implementing the PDAF-funded project, which turned out to be non-existent, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The second graft case and malversation case involved at least P1.455 million. The Ombudsman alleged that the accused then-public officials’s supposed acts “allowed Antonio and Barredo, through BMMKFI, to take possession of and thus misappropriate said PDAF-drawn public funds, instead of implementing the PDAF-funded project, which turned out to be non-existent, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines.” REINA LEANNE C. TOLENTINO

 

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