Sandiganbayan denies Floirendo’s motion to defer arraignment

Davao del Norte Second District Rep. Antonio R. Floirendo Jr.

THE Sandiganbayan Six Division has rejected the motion of Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio R. Floirendo Jr. to defer his arraignment and direct the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation of the graft charges against him.

In a resolution dated April 12, 2018, the Sixth Division ruled that Floirendo’s omnibus motion for leave filed in February is prohibited by court rules.

The Ombudsman has completed the preliminary investigation of the case so there is no need to direct the Ombudsman to do so, according to the resolution.

The resolution cited the Ombudsman’s rules of procedures that allows only one motion for reconsideration or investigation.

“The accused filed his motion for reconsideration and/or reinvestigation (First Motion) which the Office of the Ombudsman denied in the Order dated December 28, 2017. With the denial of the accused’ First Motion, the preliminary investigation was completed,” the Sandiganbayan resolution said. “There is likewise no valid ground for the suspension or deferment of the accused’ arraignment. Under the Revised Guidelines, a motion to suspend arraignment based on grounds not stated under Section 11, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court is a prohibited motion.”

The case stemmed from Floirendo’s alleged involvement in the negotiation or approval of the joint venture agreement (JVA) between the Bureau of Correction (BuCor) and Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) owned by his family for the lease of the former’s property in May 2003, when he was a congressman owning most of Tadeco shares.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez filed a corruption complaint with the Ombudsman against Floirendo and the Ombudsman filed graft charges against him after finding probable cause in a preliminary investigation.

Floiredo denied intervening in the approval or execution of the JVA and sought a reinvestigation so he can submit evidence. The Ombudsman denied the motion prompting Floirendo to file the omnibus motion before the Sandiganbayan.

rw: wjg