Floirendo eyes appeal of graft conviction

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    FORMER Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. will challenge the August 26, 2020 decision of the Sandiganbayan convicting him of one count of graft before the Supreme Court.

    In a single-page resolution dated last February 1, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division approved Floirendo’s notice of appeal, noting it was filed on January 29, 2021 or a week after his motion for reconsideration was denied last January 22.

    Other than paying the docket fees amounting to P3,035, Floirendo was not required to post additional bail bonds to remain out of detention.

    “The Court notes accused Floirendo’s manifestation that the Court allowed him to enjoy provisional liberty under the same bond pending appeal, there being no objection thereto by the prosecution,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    The former lawmaker was convicted for having an unlawful interest in the land lease contract between Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (Tadeco) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) signed in 2003 when he was the representative of the Second Legislative District of Davao del Norte.

    Evidence presented by prosecutors showed he held 75,000 Tadeco shares when the lease contract was extended on May 21, 2003.

    In his motion for reconsideration, Floirendo argued that 75,000 shares comprised less than one percent or exactly 0.89 percent of the total outstanding stocks of Tadeco which he said should have been exempt from “prohibited interest.”

    However, majority members of the special division voted to deny the appeal, noting the crime of violation of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act may be committed under two modes – actual intervention and mere holding of prohibited interest.

    It said the manner by which the law was worded by the framers showed it was intended to be “all-encompassing and all-embracing” to apply to a wide range of situations from which conflict of interest or use of influence may arise.

    The court said contrary to the contention of Floirendo, divestment of interest by a member of Congress is mandatory because the mere act of holding of such interest is already prohibited and not simply when conflict of interest arises.

    The court directed the division clerk of court to transmit the records of the case to the Supreme Court.