Ex-agriculture chiefs Yap, Lorenzo to be arraigned on graft allegations

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2018 09:18 PM

MANILA—Former agriculture secretaries Luis Lorenzo Jr. and Arthur Yap are scheduled to be arraigned by the Sandiganbayan 6th Division on Friday on 5 cases of graft stemming from an alleged P46.4-million fertilizer procurement in 2003.

The arraignment was set after the junking of the anti-graft court of the motions for reconsideration filed by Lorenzo and Yap, currently serving as Bohol 3rd District Representative, which sought to reverse the earlier decision denying their motions to dismiss.

Among the reasons cited by Lorenzo and Yap are the supposed inordinate delay in the investigation of their cases on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman. 

“With respect to the prejudice to the accused on account of the delay, their claim remains unsubstantiated. Moreover, their arguments are nothing but rehash and deserve scant consideration,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Maryann Corups-Mañalac. 

The Ombudsman alleged that in 2003 Lorenzo, then agriculture secretary, and Yap, the National Food Authority administrator at the time, conspired with Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. representative Tomas Guibani for the negotiated procurement of fertilizers, in violation of the Government Procurement Act.

The court emphasized that the five information filed by the Ombudsman show that the necessary elements of graft are alleged clearly and accurately.

“Also these sufficiently state the ultimate facts constituting the offense, not the finer details of why and how the illegal acts alleged amounted to undue injury to the zone of interests of the state — matters that are appropriate for trial,” the court said.