Jaraula fails to halt proceedings in graft cases

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    FOR the second time in as many months, former Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraula failed in his attempt to get the Sandiganbayan to dismiss two counts of graft filed against him last year by the Office of the Ombudsman.

    In a three-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick L. Musngi, the Sandiganbayan Second Division denied Jaraula’s motion for reconsideration seeking reversal of the October 24, 2019 resolution that threw out his urgent consolidated motion to quash amended information with motion to defer arraignment.

    In its ruling dated November 26, 2019, the anti-graft court said the former lawmaker failed to raise new arguments or questions that would warrant a second look on his previous motions.

    “After a careful review, the Court denies the Motion for Reconsideration as the grounds raised are a mere rehash of the arguments he made in his previous motion. The Court still does not find any cogent reason to overturn its earlier pronouncement,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    Associate Justices Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Lorifel Lacap Pahimna concurred.

    The cases against Jaraula concern alleged irregular disbursement of Fertilizer Funds totaling P3 million in 2004 in supposed conspiracy with officials of the Department of Agriculture Region 10 and officers of non-government organization Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI).

    Prosecutors said the NGO was not qualified to undertake the program since it was registered hundreds of kilometers away in Western Bicutan, Taguig City and had doubtful financial capacity since its sole funding source were donations or grants and minimum membership fees.

    In his motion for reconsideration, Jaraula argued that he was deprived of his right to participate in the reinvestigation but the court reiterated that he had been given ample opportunity to controvert the allegations during preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman.

    It said a reinvestigation was necessary since there were other defendants who did not or were not afforded the chance to participate in the preliminary investigation.

    The court underscored that the information against Jaraula sufficiently stated the ultimate facts constituting the offense charged.

    “Other issues raised by the accused are evidentiary in nature and are matters of defense, truth of which can best be passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits,” the court added.