By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has denied the omnibus motion for leave to suspend and defer arraignment filed by Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. because there is “no valid ground” for it.
Aside from the motion for leave, Floirendo requested that the anti-graft court direct the Office of the Ombudsman to complete the preliminary investigation against him.
In a five-page resolution signed on April 12, the court denied his motion. After examining his motion, the court came to the conclusion that Floirendo is seeking reinvestigation on the grounds that he is innocent and he was denied due process.
Floirendo has been charged with graft due to his involvement in the joint venture agreement between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Tagum Agricultural Development Company (TADECO) back in 2003.
On July 11, 1969, TADECO signed a contract with BuCor for the former’s right to use and develop a banana plantation of 3,000 hectares within the Davao Penal Colony, which would last 25 years. The contract was renewed on September 26, 1979, followed by the most recent agreement on May 21, 2003.
Based on the new contract, BuCor will receive a guaranteed annual production share of P26,541,809 as well as profit shares, and it will increase by 10 percent every five years just as long as TADECO is allowed to use 5,308.36 hectares of land.
Floirendo, who was serving as the Representative of the 2nd District of Davao Del Norte from 2001 to 2004, owned most of TADECO’s shares of stocks. He had 75,000 shares of TADECO, or equivalent to 89 percent of its outstanding capital stock at the time of the 2003 agreement.
Floirendo sought to present additional evidence showing that he had no participation whatsoever in the negotiation or approval of the joint venture agreement, and he vouched for his innocence since he did not intervene in any way in the approval or execution of the joint venture.
However, the Office of the Ombudsman denied his request on February 1.
Because of this denial, the Sandiganbayan saw no need for the Ombudsman to reopen his case. “There is no need to order the Office of the Ombudsman to complete the preliminary investigation because it has been completed,” the resolution simply stated.