THE Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division has ordered the arrest of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. over a graft case involving the 2003 lease deal entered into by the lawmaker’s Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (Tadeco) with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Floirendo, in a statement, lashed out at Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, accusing his former ally of abuse of power. Floirendo posted bail, which was set by the court at P30,000.
“The hasty filing of the case against me before the Sandiganbayan and the subsequent issuance of the warrant of arrest in connection with the BuCor-Tadeco deal is a clear sign of the existence of abuse of power and arrogance on the part of the Speaker,” Floirendo said in his statement on Wednesday.
“I am ready to face this case as this will give the opportunity to clear my name, “ Floirendo added.
“Despite such setback, I maintain my faith in our justice system because I have not done anything wrong. In the end, I am confident that I will prevail because the truth is on my side,” he said.
On February 9, the Office of the Ombudsman filed the graft case before the Sandiganbayan, which stemmed from the complaint filed by Alvarez against Floirendo, for conflict of interest over the renewed agreement for Tadeco’s lease of land owned by the Davao Penal Colony.
Alvarez and Floirendo had a public falling out last year, which supposedly began with a feud between their girlfriends and the speaker’s estrangement from his wife.
In its 11-page resolution, the Ombudsman found that the complaint offered sufficient evidence showing that Floirendo probably committed a violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
In its resolution, the Ombudsman said there was no dispute that Floirendo was a congressional representative when the 2003 agreement between Tadeco and BuCor was signed.
“He also had a direct and indirect financial interest in said contract, owning at the time 75,000 shares of Tadeco worth P7,500,000. It is also worth noting that most of the stocks of Tadeco are owned by, or through Anflocor under the control of, respondent and his family,” the Ombudsman alleged.
Anflocor is Anflo Management and Investment Corp.
According to Alvarez’s complaint, Tadeco and BuCor entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) sometime in 1969, which allowed Tadeco to lease from BuCor about 3,000 hectares of land that shall then be developed and used as a banana plantation by Tadeco.
Tadeco and BuCor executed a Consolidated JVA in 1979, which extended the lease period to 25 years, it said.
The complaint added that the Consolidated JVA was renewed for another 25 years in 2003.
“Tadeco and Anflocor would have been adversely affected if it was unable to renew the Consolidated JVA back in 2003, as it would not have access to the lands inside [the Davao Penal Colony]. Without the land on which to plant their bananas on, it would logically, directly, and immediately paralyze the banana plantation’s continued operation,” Alvarez said.