FORMER Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraula has failed to halt proceedings in multiple criminal charges pending against him before the Sandiganbayan Second Division concerning alleged irregular disbursement of Fertilizer Funds totaling P3 million in 2004.
Associate Justice Michael Frederick L. Musngi penned the eight-page resolution dated October 24, 2019 that denied Jaraula’s urgent consolidated motion to quash amended information with motion to defer arraignment where he invoked inordinate delay in the investigation of graft and malversation charges filed against him last year by the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Accused failed to convince us that there was delay that prejudiced him from the reinvestigation ordered for the other accused who were not given the opportunity to file their counter-affidavits,” the anti-graft court said.
Associate Justices Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Lorifel L. Pahimna concurred.
Jaraula was charged with two counts of graft and one count of malversation over allegations of fraudulent disbursement of P3 million agricultural assistance fund intended for his district in 2004.
In his motion, Jaraula claimed the information was defective because it failed to state the specific criminal act he was supposed to have committed as a congressman.
He also argued that the allegation of negligence in addition to criminal intent is incompatible with each other.
The court, however, sustained the prosecution’s stand that the information only requires it to state the ultimate acts constituting the criminal offense and not the specific duties of a public official.
The court also pointed out that the phrases “manifest partiality,” “evident bad faith,” and “inexcusable negligence” only means the criminal offense charged may have been committed in any of those modes.
Prosecutors said the former congressman personally picked Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) to implement his agriculture-assistance projects even if the said NGO was not qualified, having been registered in Western Bicutan, Taguig City.
Graft investigators added that PSDFI’s financial capacity was suspect since its sole funding source was donations or grants and minimum membership fees.
The PSDFI also failed to submit a list of projects it had previously undertaken as proof of its capability to undertake the implementation of the government project.
Bajas was named co-defendant in the malversation charge and the first graft case together with Department of Agriculture Region 7 technical director Jose Quitazol Sr., assistant regional director Antonio Rosal, and regional executive director Eduardo Lecciones Jr.
Likewise included were DA Region 10 technical director Joel Rudinas, assistant regional director Martino Cajita, accountant Caludia Artazo, and budget officer Ma. Reina Lumiantas.
Charged as private defendants were Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) president Evelyn de Leon, vice president Annabelle Luy, treasurer Maria Fe Escabarte, auditor Jose Ardias, secretary Gertrudes Kilapkilap, and members Henry Bucalin and Luzviminda Bucalin.
However, in a resolution dated May 17, 2019, the court ordered the names of former DA Region 7 regional executive director Eduardo Lecciones Jr., Committee on Accreditation chairman Antonio Rosal, and regional technical director Jose Quitazol Jr. as co-defendants.