Sandiganbayan allows co-accused in graft charges to post lower bail

Published January 6, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki

The Sandiganbayan Third Division has allowed former National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) Director IV Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal to post a reduced bail for his provisional liberty for his 16 criminal charges. Instead of posting bail of over P1 million, he was allowed to pay just P80,000.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Sevidal was one of the many co-accused in the case filed against former first district Representative Marina Clarete of Misamis Occidental, who is facing seven malversation, 18 graft, and 11 malversation through falsification charges in relation to her P65-million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam back in 2007 to 2009.

Sevidal, on the other hand, is facing eight counts of graft, six counts of malversation through falsification charges, and two counts of malversation. He was directed to pay P30,000 bail for each graft charge, P200,000 for each malversation through falsification charge, and P40,000 for each malversation charge. In all, he had to pay P1,520,000 for his provisional liberty.

Sevidal posted a motion before the anti-graft court, through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), and pleaded for a reduction of his bail bond.

He said that he had already posted bail before different Divisions of the Sandiganbayan, which has rendered him financially incapable to post bail. He added that he has been experiencing serious health problems, and he was currently unemployed and an indigent.

For its part, the prosecution did not interpose any objection to Sevidal’s motion, citing humanitarian considerations.

After considering all the other bail bonds Sevidal had posted in different Divisions for different cases, the Third Division decided to give Sevidal a break.

In its resolution, the anti-graft court noted that Sevidal already posted bail in 31 cases before different Divisions of the Sandiganbayan in the total amount of P629,000, and he is poised to pay another P4,950,000 in 50 other cases.

“Time and again, the Court has held that the amount of bail should be reasonable,” the resolution stated. “In implementing this mandate, regard should be taken of the accused’s pecuniary circumstances. We point out that what is reasonable bail to a man of wealth may be unreasonable to a poor man charged with a like offense. Thus, the right to bail should not be rendered nugatory by requiring a sum that is relatively excessive.”

“The amount should be high enough to assure the presence of the defendant when required, but no higher than is reasonably calculated to fulfill this purpose,” it added.

The court allowed him to post bail in the reduced amount of P5,000 for each of his charges.

The five-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Ronald Moreno.

Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer IV M.A. Christian O. Uy accused Clarete of endorsing her pork barrel to support “ghost” projects by different non-government organizations.

These are the National Agri-business Corporation (NABCOR), NLDC, and Technology Resource Center (TRC) as implementing agencies, with Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI), Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (KMBFI) and Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc. (AFPI) as NGO partners.

Clarete made it appear that her multi-million PDAF was used to distribute livelihood technology kits and trainings; water pumps; hand tractors; calamansi, rambutan and mango seedlings.

However, Ombudsman investigators discovered that the alleged recipients included in the list of beneficiaries did not really receive any of the items. None of the local officials or municipal agriculturists that were reportedly involved were even aware of the said projects.