Arraignment of ex-CDO solon tagged in ‘pork’ scam deferred
MANILA, Philippines–The Sandiganbayan First Division on Thursday deferred the arraignment for the malversation, graft and direct bribery charges against of former Cagayan de Oro Representative Constantino Jaraula over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
The former congressman appeared for his arraignment but his counsel asked the court to defer it due to a pending motion for quash of information and a motion to defer before the antigraft court.
The First Division chaired by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz granted Jaraula’s plea. The prosecution was given 10 days to comment on the motion, while Jaraula was given five days to respond.
The court also deferred the arraignment for malversation and graft of Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and his staff Rosario Nunez, Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule due to their pending motions for judicial re-determination of probable cause.
Accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, meanwhile, did not appear for her arraignment for malversation, graft and corruption of public officials because the police have yet to return her arrest warrant.
The court reset their arraignment for May 4.
Meanwhile, the following were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to malversation and graft: Former Technology Resource Center (TRC) head Dennis Cunanan, TRC staff members Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, Ma. Rosalinda Lacsamana, Belina Concepcion, and Maurine Dimaranan, as well as private individual Mylene Encarnacion.
Former TRC head Antonio Ortiz was not arraigned because he is abroad and at large.
According to the Ombudsman’s indictment against Jaraula, the former solon received at least P20.8 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the scam, citing the ledger of rebates of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Luy also said he personally delivered the commissions to Jaraula, the Ombudsman said.
Jaraula received P50.5 million of PDAF from 2004 to 2007 for projects that turned out to be “ghost” implementations by Napoles’ bogus foundation.
“The (Commission on Audit) special audit findings disclosed that the projects were ‘ghost’ projects as they were never implemented in the lone district of Cagayan De Oro,” the Ombudsman said.
In an interview after the hearing, Jaraula maintained confidence that he is innocent from the charges.
“I trust our Court and I have faith in the Judiciary. Correspondingly, I am ready to prove in court my absolute innocence [in] all the cases filed against me,” Jaraula said.
He added that he flew all the way from Cagayan De Oro to face his charges.
“That’s how serious I am in facing this case” said Jaraula, who posted a P300,000-bail for provisional liberty.
In his motion to quash information, Jaraula maintained that the malversation and direct bribery charges be overthrown because he had no role in the release and disbursement of his PDAF in the scam.
Jaraula also asked the court to return the charges to the Ombudsman for amendment and for another preliminary investigation.
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