MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 7th Division has set the arraignment of former Philippine National Railways officials implicated in the anomalous purchase of soft wood for railroad tracks on Friday.
In a resolution, the anti-graft court denied the motions to quash and defer arraignment filed by accused Julio Ragragio, Estelito Nierva, Abdul Aziz Pangandaman, Atty. Neofito Perilla, Marlo Arias, Cesar Bocanog, Ruben Besmonte and Divina Gracia Dantes.
The accused argued that the allegations against them does not constitute the offenses charged and there was inordinate delay of three years before the charges were filed.
“The allegations in the Informations are sufficient in themselves to establish the elements of the crimes as charged,” the court said in the resolution ordered by 7th Division Chairperson Associate Justice Maria Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses and Bayani Jacinto.
The court likewise denied the motion for reconsideration on the motion to suspend proceedings filed by accused Rosendo Calleja.
The former PNR officials, led by Ragragio who served as PNR General Manager, are facing two counts of graft over the purchase of sub-standard larch wood, a kind of soft wood, imported from China.
Based on the charge sheet of the Office of the Ombudsman, two payments totaling P47,134,980 were made to Nikka Trading which holds office at Cityland Herrera Tower in Bel-Air, Makati.
Board resolutions and bidding documents for the transactions supposedly required Yakal wood, which is classified as hard wood.
Aside from the scheduled arraignment, the court also ordered for the pre-trial to immediately proceed, with both the prosecution and defense required to submit their list of documentary evidence and witnesses.