Sandiganbayan junks Floirendo’s plea

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By Hananeel Bordey

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has denied the motion of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio R. Floirendo, Jr. to dismiss the graft case filed against him over the controversial Tagum Agricultural Development Company (TADECO) deal.

In a resolution promulgated on 7 August but released only to media yesterday, the court found that the facts in the information sheet are sufficient to try Floirendo for violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, particularly its Sec. 3(h).

The case originated from a graft complaint filed before the Ombudsman by former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, alleging that there was an anomaly in the 2003 Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and TADECO.

Floirendo’s family owns TADECO through Anflo Management and Investment Corporation.
The JVA involved a lease of lands belonging to the Davao Penal Colony which was used as a banana plantation by TADECO.

Aside from short-changing government in hundreds of millions of pesos on the lease price and its share on the profit from banana sales, Alvarez accused Floirendo of conflict of interest.

Alvarez said Floirendo was already a sitting congressman during the signing of the deal, a situation that ran afoul with the prohibition on government officials having anything to do with government contracts.

“At this point, there is no need to look into matters beyond the four corners of the information. This Court finds that the facts charged in the Information sufficiently allege the essential elements of the second mode of violation of Sec. 3(h) of RA 3019.” the court ordered.

Floirendo’s camp argued that conflict of interest could not be claimed in the case since the representative’s interest in TADECO was a mere 0.89 percent of its outstanding capital stock and ANFLOCOR was not a party in the 2003 JVA.

He said there were no additional factual allegations sufficient to establish how his stockholdings in TADECO created a conflict of interest with Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or RA 6713.

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