Ex-Agri chief seeks dismissal of car loan case at Sandiganbayan

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2018 06:11 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2018 12:26 PM

MANILA - Fresh from the dismissal of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam cases, former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has sought the dismissal of his graft cases stemming from the allegedly anomalous car loans granted to former officials of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). 

Earlier this week, the Sandiganbayan Special 6th Division dismissed Yap's malversation and graft cases involving former Nueva Ecija 4th District Rep. Rodolfo Antonino due to the inordinate delay of the Ombudsman in the filing of the cases.

Yap, currently the representative of Bohol, is facing two counts of graft for supposed unwarranted benefits to PhilRice employees who were allowed to obtain personal car loans from the Philippine National Bank, secured by PhilRice funds through Hold-Out Agreements (HOAs) with the bank.

In his motion to quash information filed by his lawyer also at the 6th Division, Yap pointed out that he and PhilRice official Remedios de Leon were absent in the meeting of the board wherein the car plan and its guidelines were discussed.

In the meetings, also cited in the complaint, wherein Yap and De Leon were present, there was nothing in the minutes that expressly or impliedly authorized the execution of the subject HOAs.

The complaint against De Leon was dropped by the Ombudsman and she was not charged before the Sandiganbayan.

“With the prima facie truth of the allegation of conspiracy dispensed with if not destroyed, the facts alleged in the Informations do not constitute an offense as to Mr. Yap,” Yap’s lawyer Alexander Poblador said.

It was also noted that the HOAs were signed by Yap’s co-accused, PhilRice Executive Director Ronillo Beronio, as well as a certain Fe Lumawag.

“It is settled that only corporate officers shown to have participated in the alleged anomalous acts may be held criminally liable,” Poblador said.

Yap also said that the preliminary investigation of the Ombudsman “dragged on for more than six years,” thus resulting to the inordinate delay in the proceedings. 

“As held by the Supreme Court, the respect and confidence of the people in the Office of the Ombudsman do not lie solely on its fairness or impartiality, but with its capacity to resolve cases speedily,” Poblador said.

Yap also has a pending case at the 3rd Division, as co-accused of Misamis Occidental 1st District Rep. Marina Clarete, also in connection with the PDAF scam.