Sandigan orders arrest of Davao solon for graft
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has issued an arrest warrant against Davao del Norte 2nd Dist. Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. for the bailable case of graft.
The graft court confirmed on Wednesday the issuance of the arrest warrant against Floirendo. However, a copy of the warrant was not released to reporters.
To secure temporary liberty, the legislator would have to post bail amounting to P30,000.
Floirendo was charged on February 9 with one count of violation of Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for having financial interest in the Tagum Agricultural Development Corp. (Tadeco).
Tadeco’s joint venture agreement with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) was extended in 2003.
At the time, Floirendo was already serving as representative. Ombudsman prosecutors alleged then that the lawmaker held 75,000 shares in Tadeco worth P7.5 million; and that most of the banana company’s stocks were also owned by the Floirendo family through the holding company Anflo Management and Investment Corp. (Anflocor).
Prosecutors said this violated Article VI, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that no senator or House member shall “directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government… during his term of office.”
Floirendo argued before the Ombudsman that he did not participate in the negotiation and approval of the joint venture on the use of Davao Penal Colony land, but the Ombudsman ruled this was irrelevant because “mere possession of prohibited interest” was enough to indict him for graft.
Floirendo was the top financier of President Rodrigo Duterte in his presidential bid during the May 2016 elections. Reports claimed that Floirendo shelled out a total of P75 million, or a fifth of the P376.01-million Duterte campaign kitty.
The graft case against Floreindo stemmed from a complaint filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in March. Although the two were Mr. Duterte’s major allies from the Davao region, their friendship reportedly turned sour after an alleged fight between Floirendo’s longtime partner and Alvarez’s girlfriend, who later confirmed that the spat happened.
In a statement, Floirendo said the Ombudsman’s hasty” filing of graft charges and the Sandiganbayan’s subsequent issuance of the warrant was “a clear sign of the existence of abuse of power and arrogance on the part of the Speaker.”
“While I welcome the hastily filed complaint, I would like to point out that this transgression on the part of the Speaker is not only political but a veiled attempt at grabbing the deal for his business and personal interest,” Floirendo said.
He insisted that the BuCor-Tadeco deal that first began in 1969 “benefits thousands of inmates and their families and has provided livelihood to thousands of residents and workers.” /kga
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