Sandiganbayan refuses to suspend proceedings vs. ex-DOST secretary

Published April 2, 2019, 11:55 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division refused to suspend the proceedings of the graft case against former Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary William Padolina even though he has already elevated it to the Supreme Court.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Padolina, in his capacity as a Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) board member, was earlier charged, alongside former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap, with one violation each of Section 3(e) and 3(g) of R.A. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

They were accused of instituting a car plan from 2008 to 2009 that allowed several employees to obtain personal loans amounting to P15.8 million from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for the purchase of private cars.

Hold Out Agreements (HOA) were signed to enable the PhilRice Car Plan, even though it subjected “PhilRice’s deposit with PNB to the agreement that said deposit will not be withdrawn until the car/personal loans guaranteed are paid in full amounting to P15,780,000,” their charge sheet read.

The private cars were even leased by PhilRice for the official use of all the beneficiaries despite the fact that they were still entitled to transportation allowances.

As a result of their actions, PhilRice was not able to utilize its deposits with PNB during the subsistence of the loans and its failure to obtain the best possible car rental deals, among other things.

Padolina filed a motion to suspend the proceedings, seeking for the suspension of his case before the Sandiganbayan because of his pending petition for certiorari, which was filed on January 25, 2009.

In his petition before the SC, Padolina prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and he questioned the rulings of the court on August 15 and December 6, 2018 that denied his motion to quash and motion for reconsideration, respectively.

He pleaded with the Sandiganbayan to exercise “judicial courtesy” while they await the SC ruling on his petition. Padolina further argued that there might be possible confusion and disruption in the proceedings because of the pending motions of his co-accused.

However, the anti-graft court denied his motion because it has not received any TRO from the SC. Without any TRO, the Sandiganbayan ruled that the mere filing of the petition for certiorari cannot interrupt its proceedings.

The Sandiganbayan likewise did not buy into the contention of Padolina that proceeding with his case despite the pending incidents of his co-accused will result in confusion and disorder.

Lastly, the anti-graft court found no basis for his request for “judicial courtesy.” “The proceedings in this case will not render the subject of the petition for certiorari moot,” the resolution read.

“To grant the present motion is to unwarrantly exempt the accused of his burden to prove the existence of an urgent necessity in order to prevent serious damage, which is indispensable for the issuance of a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction,” it added.

Aside from Padolina, the other PhilRice Board of Trustees members included in the charge sheet were Johnifer Batara, Fe Laysa, Winston Corvera, Gelia Castillo, Senen Bacani, Rodolfo Undan, and Executive Director Ronillo Beronio and Cashier Fe Lumawag.