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Graft arraignment of ex-Palawan governor reset for September

/ 01:22 PM June 06, 2017
Mario Joel Reyes

Former Palawan Gov. Mario Joel Reyes (File photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The scheduled arraignment for graft of former Palawan Gov. Mario Joel Reyes was canceled and reset for Sept. 5 due to his pending motion to have his 36 graft cases dismissed.

The graft case was filed in connection with his alleged misuse of P1.53 billion from the Malampaya fund.

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The others accused in the case also have pending motions for dismissal.

Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr., chair of the Sandiganbayan Second Division, ordered the arraignment reset with a reminder to defense lawyers that, under the Supreme Court’s revised guidelines for continuous trial, the court may dispense with the reading of the information to the accused who would instead be informed of their charges by the lawyers even before arraignment.

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In his motion to dismiss, Reyes said there was no basis in the court’s finding of probable cause to hold him for trial. He blamed instead his subordinates for the anomalous procurement of the provincial government’s royalties from the Malampaya gas field off the shore of Palawan.

READ: Joel Reyes seeks dismissal of Malampaya scam cases

Reyes was charged with 14 counts of graft for Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to the government and giving unwarranted benefits to private parties, when he awarded 209 infrastructure contracts to 11 construction firms despite procurement violations, and when he approved the payment to three contractors despite lack of supporting documents.

He was also charged with 22 counts of graft for violating Section 3(g) of the anti-graft law for approving contracts allegedly disadvantageous to government because these contracts did not provide for payment of liquidated damages in case of project delays.

His subordinates were separately charged for fabricating accomplishment reports to justify the disbursement for unfinished projects.

READ: Ex-Palawan gov Reyes, 41 others charged in P1.53-B Malampaya scam

Reyes is detained at the Puerto Princesa city jail while facing trial for the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

READ: Reyes brothers in Ortega killing arrested in Thailand

Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, 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.

READ: Reyes brothers lived in a villa, drove an SUV as fugitives

The brothers led a lavish lifestyle in Phuket, Thailand, before they were arrested by authorities in September 2015 for violation of immigration laws. They were deported to the Philippines and detained at the Puerto Princesa city jail for murder.

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The younger Reyes had been granted bail.

READ: Ortega murder: Ex-Coron Mayor Reyes granted bail | Joel Reyes’ bid for bail rejected

The elder Reyes was earlier charged with graft over the fertilizer fund scam for allegedly giving undue benefit to the bogus foundation Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation (Mamfi) in the procurement of 3,240 bottles of liquid fertilizers without public bidding in 2004.

Reyes allegedly favored Mamfi even though it was not eligible to implement the project. The same foundation also figured in the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles.

But the Sandiganbayan later dismissed this case due to the Ombudsman’s “inordinate delay” in investigating the charge. /atm/rga

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TAGS: fertilizer fund scam, Gerry Ortega, Malampaya fund scam, Mario Joel Reyes, Sandiganbayan
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