The Sandiganbayan on Wednesday found former Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. guilty of his graft charge in relation to the irregular land deal between his family and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in 2003.
The three justices of the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division, however, did not all agree to hand him a guilty verdict. Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda voted to convict Floirendo, while Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero voted to acquit.
As a result, a special division of five was created with Associate Justices Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Ronald Moreno. After this, the majority vote was heeded.
But why did Vivero disagree with the other justices?
Floirendo was found guilty of violating Section 3(h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to the joint venture agreement between the BuCor and Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (TADECO) back in 2003.
The former lawmaker had 75,000 shares of TADECO, or equivalent to .89 percent of its outstanding capital stock at the time of the agreement. However, the law prohibits officials from having any financial or pecuniary interest “in any business, contract, or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity.”
Vivero explained in his dissenting opinion that the basic facts of the case are undisputed and he adopts the narration of facts in the majority opinion. But he added that “it is on the conclusion drawn by the majority from those basic and undisputed facts that I beg to differ and, therefore, respectfully dissent therefrom.”
Vivero said that Floirendo’s “interest” in TADECO was not substantial, and should not even be placed within the ambit of Article 6, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution. Floirendo’s 75,000 shares, according to Vivero, only amounts to .89 percent of the total outstanding stock or equity.
“It is my humble submission that considering the very substantial interest of accused Floirendo in TADECO, and there being no evidence that he exerted influence, or in any way intervened to ensure the approval of the JVA between TADECO and BuCor, he should be acquitted of the charges leveled against him,” he said.
Vivero also said that Floirendo’s interests were “too far removed” from the transaction since he was a “mere shareholder” of ANFLOCOR, which happens to own shares in TADECO.
Floirendo and his siblings only became shareholders of the companies because their father willed it, not because they paid for it, Vivero said.
“All the foregoing would clearly show that there is absolutely no evidence that would suggest, much less prove, that a conflict of interest exist in this case, nor any indication whatsoever, that accused Floirendo extended influence to consummate the JVA in question,” he said.