IMMEDIATELY after his case landed at the Sandiganbayan Third Division, former Philippine Gaming Corp. chief Efraim Genuino posted bail before the anti-graft court.
Assisted by lawyer Benjamin Santos, Genuino had his mugshot and fingerprints taken at the court of clerk’s office at about 2:15 p.m.
Genuino and six others are facing criminal raps in line with the alleged P44-million donation to Batang Iwas Droga (Bida) Foundation, the P22-million purchase of movie tickets for ‘Baler,’ and the P1.41-million misappropriation of donated rice from Japan in 2008.
The beleaguered former head of the state’s lottery agency coughed up P1.77 million for his provisional liberty in line with his 39 counts of criminal charges of which 19 are graft and 20 are malversation.
Alongside Genuino, posting their respective bail bonds are Rafael Francisco, president and chief operating officer (P1.71 million); Valente Custodio, assistant vice president of internal audit department (P1.71 million); and Jose Benedicto, chief of staff (P90,000).
The four posted bail without waiting for the release of their warrants of arrest, which is a court’s approval of finding probable cause in the alleged undertakings of Pagcor in three different but consolidated transactions.
“We posted bail for purposes of peace of mind,” Santos said.
He added that Genuino’s posting of bail does not prevent the defense from challenging the validity of the indictments against his client.
In fact at 4 p.m., lead counsels Santos and Ramon Esguerra filed the motion for judicial determination of probable cause on behalf of Genuino and other defendants.
“We will still challenge the indictment. The posting of the cash bond does not bar us from challenging the information,” Santos said in an ambush interview.
Genuino immediately showed up at the court after the dockets raffled the case before Friday noon. The Third Division, chaired by Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz, Jr., will be trying the case.
In a similar development, Villaruz, who is set to retire on June 8, is still authorized to handle the case despite he is less than a month shy from his retirement.
“The presiding justice has still the authority in the case. He can still sit to issue orders like hold departure and warrant of arrest,” said Sandiganbayan spokesman Renato Bocar.
He added that in case a pending motion filed by the defense caught up with the retirement of the Sandiganbayan chief, Associate Justice Jose Hernandez of the Fourth Division, will replace him.