Fertilizer fund scam cases vs Cagayan mayor affirmed

    91

    THE Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has affirmed for the second time the validity of two graft charges filed last April 5 against Tuao, Cagayan municipal mayor Francisco N. Mamba Jr. and his co-accused over the alleged mishandling of fertilizer funds amounting to P5.145 million.

    Denying defendants’ motion for reconsideration, the court said the accused offered no valid ground to warrant the reversal of its October 3, 2019 resolution that denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

    Mamba was charged with two counts of graft by the Office of the Ombudsman based on allegations of fraud relative to the purchase of P5.145 million worth of liquid fertilizer using farm-assistance funds transferred by the Department of Agriculture to the local government in 2004.

    Prosecutors said the transaction did not undergo the required public bidding, therefore unduly favoring Feshan Philippines Inc, represented by private defendant Ramon Aytona.

    Likewise named co-defendants were Vice Mayor William Mamba, municipal administrator Frederick Baligod, municipal treasurer Rodolfo Cardenas, administrative assistants Merlina Dayag and Jose Palacpac, accounting clerk Anabel Turingan, agricultural officer Teresita Espinosa, agricultural technologists Leticia Acob and Petra delos Santos.

    The defense argued that the two information were defective since they involved the same transaction and purpose although there were two payments. They insisted that there should have been only one case filed.

    Prosecutors countered that the same argument have been raised in the motion to dismiss and maintained that the indictment was based on two separate acts of giving unwarranted benefits to the private supplier.

    “After a careful consideration of the records as well as the allegations of the parties, the Court resolves to deny the instant motion for lack of merit. As correctly pointed out by the prosecution, the arguments raised by the accused are mere rehash of their motion to dismiss anchored on double jeopardy,” the anti-graft court declared.

    It reiterated that there is no valid basis for the defense to invoke double jeopardy as the first instance of jeopardy has yet to attach as no case has been validly terminated.

    “There being no new matter alleged in the Motion for Reconsideration that would otherwise convince the Court to modify or reverse the assailed Resolution, the same is therefore maintained,” the Sandiganbayan said.