By Czarina Ong Ki
Former Department of Agriculture (DA) regional director Eduardo Lecciones decided to enter into a plea bargaining agreement with the prosecution with regards to his graft charge and has pleaded guilty before the Sandiganbayan to frauds against public treasury.
Because of this, Lecciones escaped a possible jail sentence and was instead fined P10,000.
Lecciones was initially slapped with a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to the reportedly anomalous release of the DA’s Farm Inputs Farm Implements funds to various local government units (LGUs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) back in 2004.
Lecciones filed his motion to plea bargain for lower offense on May 2 this year. Instead of graft, Lecciones prayed that he be charged instead for violating Section 106 of Presidential Decree No. 1445, or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.
However, the prosecution did not accept this. The prosecution then proposed that the charge be changed to Frauds Against the Public Treasury, as defined by Article 213 of the Revised Penal Code. Lecciones accepted.
He was then re-arraigned on August 9 and he entered a guilty plea. “In view of the said plea of guilty to the said offense, and on account of the liquidation of the amount involved here which is P2,941,340.51, the said accused is hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Frauds Against Public Treasury,” the court decision read.
“Considering that the amount involved in this case had already been liquidated fully, there is no pronouncement as to the civil liability of the said accused,” it added.
The decision was signed by First Division Chairperson Efren De La Cruz and Associate Justice Edgardo Caldona.