Biazon seeks dismissal of pork barrel scam cases
Resigned Customs Commissioner Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon has asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss his pork barrel scam charges as he denied receiving kickbacks from accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
In his urgent motion filed before the anti-graft court Seventh Division, the Liberal Party stalwart asked the court to dismiss his malversation, graft and direct bribery charges, as well as defer the issuance of an arrest warrant.
He denied that he received P1.95 million kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) for his alleged dealings with Napoles to convert his pork barrel to ghost projects for commissions.
Biazon also denied having any dealings with his alleged agent Zenaida Ducut, the former Energy Regulatory Commission chief accused of being the middle person between Biazon and Napoles.
The former Muntinlupa representative said there is no probable cause for the court to try him for malversation because he as a former lawmaker has no custody or control over his pork barrel.
Biazon said his only task is to endorse the project to the implementing agency, which will be receive the special allotment release order from the budget department.
“The funds were coursed through the implementing agency and never passed to the office of accused Biazon,” his motion said.
He added that there is no probable cause to try him for graft because his mere endorsement of the pork barrel project does not cause injury to government.
He added that there is no evident bad faith, manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence “if the acts performed by him were in mere observance of the standard operating procedure.”
Finally, Biazon said the court cannot try him for direct bribery because he categorically denied receiving any commissions, gift, kickbacks, offer or promise from Napoles.
He said there is no evidence in the Ombudsman resolution that would prove that he received kickbacks from Napoles.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed one count each of malversation, graft and direct bribery against Biazon for his alleged criminal activities as Muntinlupa representative in 2007.
Biazon is an ally of President Benigno Aquino III under the Liberal Party. He resigned as Customs commissioner in 2013 after the Department of Justice included him in the pork barrel scam complaint.
Charged with Biazon is his alleged agent Ducut, a former Pampanga representative who purportedly acted as an agent for Napoles in the House of Representatives.
Ducut was said to have toured Napoles in the House of Representatives, according to whistleblower Merlina Suñas.
According to the malversation charge, Biazon with Ducut and Napoles “willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously appropriate, take, misappropriate, and or allow Napoles to take public funds” worth P2.7 million.
Biazon allegedly misappropriated P3 million of his PDAF to Napoles’ bogus foundation Philippine Social Development Foundation (PSDFI), which implemented Biazon’s pork barrel funds intended for livelihood projects for the barangays (villages) of Muntinlupa.
Biazon and his respondents were also charged with violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to government in coursing his pork barrel funds to the spurious foundation without public bidding, committing evident bad faith, manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence.
The project using Biazon’s PDAF turned out to be non-existent.
“Biazon and the above-named public officials appropriated, took, misappropriated, and/or allowed Napoles and her cohorts, through PSDFI, to take possession and thus misappropriate PDAF-drawn public funds instead of implementing the PDAF-funded projects, which turned out to be non-existent,” the prosecution said.
Biazon was also charged with direct bribery for allegedly receiving P1.95 million from Napoles in exchange for his endorsement of her nongovernment organization to receive his pork barrel funds.
“Biazon, through Ducut, received commissions and/or ‘kickbacks’ from Napoles in consideration of his participation and collaboration as described above,” the prosecution said.
The prosecutors said Biazon endorsed the foundation to the implementing agency which was supposed to implement the project without conducting a public bidding.
Biazon chose the implementing agency Technology Resource Center (TRC) to course his PDAF to the bogus foundation.
Also charged with Biazon were Napoles and her employee Evelyn De Leon for preparing the acceptance and delivery reports, disbursement reports, project proposal, and other liquidation documents to “conceal the fictitious nature of the transaction, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines,” the prosecution said.
The prosecution also charged TRC officials for failing to verify the qualifications of the bogus foundation—director general Antonio Ortiz, deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, group manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, group manager Francisco Figura, budget officer Consuelo Espiritu, chief accountant Marivic Jover, and internal auditor V and division chief Maurine Dimaranan.
For expediting the issuance of the special allotment release orders to release Biazon’s PDAF, budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos was also charged with his staff Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare, and Lalaine Paule.
According to the charge sheet, the bail is set at P30,000 for one count of graft, P40,000 for one count of malversation and P20,000 for one count of direct bribery.
Biazon is the next to be formally charged before the Sandiganbayan from the second batch of lawmakers sued before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the scheme of diverting their PDAF to ghost projects for kickbacks.
The Sandiganbayan is hearing the plunder cases over the pork barrel scam of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and former Apec party-list representative Edgar Valdez and dismissed Masbate governor Rizalina Seachon Lañete; as well as the malversation cases against former Cagayan de Oro representative Constantino Jaraula, former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa and former Agusan Del Sur representative Rodolfo Plaza.
Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center after their bail petitions were denied, while the elderly Enrile was allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail from hospital detention due to humanitarian considerations.
Meanwhile, Valdez and Lañete were allowed to post bail from their detention at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig after the prosecution failed to prove that they received millions of kickbacks from Napoles. RAM
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