Court defers Andaya, Napoles arraignment
MANILA - House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. on Friday apologized to the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division for his comment that the setting of his arraignment in his graft and malversation cases on Friday had a "nice timing."
Andaya, who is facing 194 cases of graft and malversation in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund scam, was scheduled for arraignment as he pursued allegations of irregularity in the proposed 2019 national budget.
Andaya was budget secretary at the time of the alleged anomaly in the use of Malampaya funds in 2009.
He recently accused current Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of alleged insertions in the proposed national budget and that the official's in-laws had bagged multimillion-peso government contracts in Sorsogon and Catanduanes. Diokno denied the allegations.
During the hearing, a visibly irked Presiding Justice and 3rd Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang called Andaya's attention for his comments made on ANC’s Headstart in relation to the controversies involving the national budget.
“I do apologize if it sent the wrong message. It won't happen again. I will be more careful,” Andaya told the court.
Cabotaje-Tang then accepted the apology but gave a stern reminder to everyone inside the courtroom.
“In resolving cases, the court will never be swayed by external factors like politics. In fact, the court is apolitical. You may disagree with our resolutions, but you have remedies. Please avail of that. Do not try to attribute anything to the court if you are not satisfied,” Cabotaje-Tang said.
Andaya, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and several relatives, former Agrarian Reform secretary and Masui City, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman and several others are facing graft and malversation cases at the anti-graft court for the alleged diversion of Malampaya funds supposedly for typhoon victims to bogus non-government organizations in 2009.
The arraignment of Andaya and the Napoleses were deferred due to pending motions to quash and a petition for certiorari before the anti-graft court and the Supreme Court, respectively.
Pangandaman and the other accused were arraigned as there were no matters pending in court in relation to their indictment.
Pangandaman, co-accused Narciso Nieto and Angelita Cacananta entered not guilty pleas while Teresita Panlilio refused to enter a plea, prompting the court to enter a not guilty plea for her.
The arraignment of the other accused was reset to February 28.