Ex-Palawan Gov Reyes, PDAF scam witness charged with graft
Former Palawan Governor Mario Joel Reyes, a fugitive who surrendered to authorities as he faces a murder trial for the killing of broadcaster Gerry Ortega, was charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan over the fertilizer fund scam.
According to the graft information filed to the court docket on Thursday, the Office of the Special Prosecution charged Reyes with one count of graft for giving undue benefit to the bogus nongovernment organization Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation (Mamfi) for the procurement of 3,240 bottles of liquid fertilizers without public bidding in 2004.
Prosecutors said Reyes released P3.25 million for the procurement to Mamfi even though it was not a qualified non-government organization (NGO) to implement the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program because it did not submit the complete documents of accreditation.
The prosecutors said Reyes caused undue injury to government by acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence when it gave unwarranted benefits to Mamfi in the transaction.
Charged with Reyes was Mamfi president Marina Sula, who testified as a witness in the plunder and graft trial of former senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and former representatives implicated in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Sula is a property custodian of Napoles, who was accused of creating bogus foundations under the names of her employees.
The other co-accused in the case are Regional Executive Director Dennis Araullo and Regional Technical Director Rodolfo Guieb, both from the Department of Agriculture-Regional Unit IV; and Nathaniel Tan, an authorized representative of Mamfi.
Reyes’ charges stemmed from the anomalous implementation of the 2004 Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Reyes and his brother former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes turned fugitive when they fled the country in March 2012 after they were indicted by the Department of Justice for allegedly masterminding the murder of Ortega in 2011. The hitman named the Reyes brothers as the masterminds of the killing.
The brothers led a lavish lifestyle in Phuket, Thailand before they were arrested by authorities there on September 2015 for violation of immigration laws. They were eventually deported to Manila, where they were detained at Puerto Princesa city jail for the Ortega murder trial.
The younger Reyes had been granted bail by the court. RAM/rga