Former Palawan Gov. Mario Joel Reyes has petitioned the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to dismiss a graft case against him in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of liquid fertilizers worth P3.25 million in 2004, claiming he had no participation in its procurement.
In a 20-page Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable Cause (with Motion to Defer Issuance of, or Lifting of Warrant of Arrest), Reyes’ lawyers also questioned the Office of the Ombudsman’s findings in suing him and four others.
The defense said the findings are “utterly baseless in law and in fact and are not sustained by substantial evidence such that they were issued with manifest error, grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”
The Ombudsman filed the case last week, alleging that the respondents gave unwarranted benefits, privilege and advantage to the non-government organization (NGO) Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI) by supposedly causing and/or approving the purchase of liquid fertilizers from the NGO without public bidding.
Reyes’ camp claimed that there is no evidence on record that shows that he endorsed MAMFI.
The defense said the beneficiary province did not choose the NGO and it was the national government, through the Department of Agriculture, not the Office of the Governor, that extended financial assistance to Palawan.
The provincial government’s main role, it claimed, was merely to receive the farm inputs and assist MAMFI in the inputs’ distribution to the cities and towns in Palawan.
The defense said “there are no existing facts and circumstances which would justify the filing of the said Information and the subsequent issuance of a warrant of arrest.”
The court is yet to determine whether there is probable cause to proceed to trial and to issue arrest warrants.