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Graft suit against Floirendo goes to court; Alvarez scores

  • Written by Peoples Journal
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 369

SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez can chalk up another victory in support of the Duterte administration’s
fight against oligarchic corruption in government.

This as the Ombudsman on January 15 affirmed Alvarez’s graft charges against Rep. Antonio
Floirendo Jr. by denying the latter’s motion to reverse his Sept. 4, 2017 indictment before the
Sandiganbayan.

The case stemmed from the joint venture agreement (JVA) entered into by the Floirendo
family-owned Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (Tadeco) with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) over
the use of land owned by the Davao Penal Colony.
    
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales denied Floirendo’s motion to submit more evidence to
support his claim that he was not in a conflict of interest situation when Tadeco signed the JVA with
the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
    
The denial of Floirendo’s motion meant the case can now proceed to the Sandiganbayan, which
is expected to issue a warrant for his arrest.
    
In his counter-motion, complainant Alvarez said Floirendo only rehashed his arguments already
found without merit by the Ombudsman in its original September 2017 order.
    
The Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Floirendo with violation of Section 3(h) of the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and having a pecuniary interest in his banana firm while in
public office.
    
The Ombudsman said Floirendo owned P7.5 million worth of Tadeco shares when Tadeco renewed
its JVA with BuCor in the lease of 5,308.36 hectares of land at the Davao Penal Colony.

Tadeco converted the land into a banana plantation.
    
Alvarez said in his complaint Floirendo was the sitting representative of Davao del Norte in
2003 when Tadeco and BuCor renewed the JVA for 25 years.
    
At that time, Floirendo was serving as a member of the board of directors of Tadeco and Anflo
Management and Investment Corp.
    
Alvarez said the government got a raw deal with the JVA under which Tadeco  guaranteed  to
give government at least P26.5 million in annual production share to be increased by 10 percent every
five years.
    
The Ombudsman affirmed its original indictment that Floirendo “probably” breached the
provision of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting lawmakers from having financial or pecuniary interest
in a contract with government during his or her term in office.
    
Floirendo’s argument that he did not participate in the negotiations for the land deal was
declared “immaterial” by the Ombudsman, pointing out that the Constitution “imposes a stricter
prohibition on him as member of the House of Representatives.”
    
Morales said in the indictment that the crafters of the Constitution made it very clear that
congressmen and senators are barred from having financial interests in government contracts, no
matter how small.