April 21, 2018, 10:10 am
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Bohol congressman to stand trial on PDAF cases

FORMER Agriculture secretary and now Bohol Rep. Arthur C. Yap will stand trial for multiple counts of graft, malversation of public funds, and malversation through falsification at the Sandiganbayan concerning his alleged involvement in the questionable transfer of P62 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations of former Misamis Occidental Rep. Marina Clarete from 2007 to 2009.

In a 15-page resolution issued last March 1, the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied Yap’s motion which sought reversal of the anti-graft court’s November 28, 2017 ruling that overruled his motion to quash.

Yap was included in the indictment for being a signatory to separate memoranda of agreement signed with implementing agencies National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor), Technology Resource Center (TRC), and National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC). 

The three government-owned or controlled corporations were found to have acted as conduits in funneling the PDAF sums into bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) identified as Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc (KKAMFI), the Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc. (KMBFI), and the Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc (AFPI).

In contesting the charges, Yap argued that his act of signing the MOAs only proved the first two elements of the graft cases – that he was a public officer, and that he was performing his official functions. He said the case information lacked any allegation of a criminal offense on his part.

On the malversation charges, he claimed that there was nothing showing that he had custody of the PDAF, hence there was an absence of allegation that he took or misappropriated public funds.

He also added that there was no proof of conspiracy between him and the other defendants, including Clarete and officials of the three GOCCs.

He also invoked his right to speedy disposition of his cases, saying there was an inordinate delay of almost three years in the preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The court swept aside all his arguments for being “bereft of merit,” noting that the issues raised have already been traversed in the assailed resolution that junked his motion to quash.

“The concept of speedy disposition is relative or flexible. A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not sufficient. The Court finds that accused Yap’s right to speedy disposition of cases was no violated,” the Sandiganbayan declared.

The court also said the information filed by prosecutors “sufficiently alleged the elements of the crime charged.”

It sustained the prosecution’s stand that each information “requisite factual averments” that, if hypothetically admitted, will establish the essential elements of the offense as defined by law.

“To be sure, accused Yap is charged in conspiracy with the other accused in the alleged commission of the offenses charged. It is fundamental that in conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all,” the Sandiganbayan said.
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