The prosecution opposed for lack of merit an appeal of former Palawan governor Mario Joel Reyes to dismiss a graft case filed against him and four others over the allegedly anomalous purchase of P3.25-million liquid fertilizers in 2004.
Reyes’ camp has sought the dismissal of his case for lack of probable cause, saying he had no participation in the procurement and no evidence on record showing he endorsed the non-government organization (NGO) Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (Mamfi).
In a 12-page Comment/Opposition filed on Thursday before the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division, the prosecution argued that Reyes’ motion for judicial determination of probable cause “should be denied on the ground that the same is a mere superfluity.”
It cited a 2008 Supreme Court case, which held that with or without such a motion, the judge is duty-bound to determine whether probable cause exists when a case is filed in court.
The prosecution said “[h]e cannot escape liability by merely invoking that what was presented to him was just fait accompli. In the first place, upon reading of the MOA [Memorandum of Agreement], it is expressed that he was even the one who identified Mamfi as the fund conduit in the implementation of the projects [as stated in the 4th Whereas Clause of the MOA]. By [e]ndorsing Mamfi, his participation [in]the overall scheme was made apparent.”
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case last month alleging that the respondents gave unwarranted benefits, privilege and advantage to Mamfi by supposedly causing and/or approving the purchase of liquid fertilizers from the NGO without public bidding.
Former Executive Director Dennis Araullo of the Department of Agriculture (DA) – Region IV and former Officer-in-Charge, Regional Technical Director Rodolfo Guieb, were also named respondents.
Also, private individuals Marina Sula and Nathaniel Tan, Mamfi’s then-president and representative, respectively, were charged.
According to Reyes’ camp, it was the DA and Mamfi that allegedly entered into direct contracting based on the Ombudsman’s resolution.
But the prosecution said Reyes “misses the fact that as a party to the MOA, his duty included assisting Mamfi and facilitating the submission of the latter’s documentary requirements to effect release of the funds. Thus, even before the funds were released to Mamfi, accused-movant had a chance to review Mamfi’s documentary requirements and would have known that it was not accredited in accordance with COA Circular No. 96-003…”