Masbate governor surrenders to CIDG over plunder charge

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Masbate representative now Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete surrendered to authorities on Wednesday, February 18, after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ordered her arrest over plunder and graft charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Lanete surrendered at 8:30 pm on Wednesday to Police Director Benjamin Magalong, chief of the  Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Police Chief Inspector Elizabeth Degocena Jasmin, CIDG public information office chief.

"She has undergone the process of mugshot, fingerprint, and medical/physical examinations. She will be temporarily detained at NCRCIDU prior to the return of the warrant of arrest and the issuance of commitment order," Jasmin said in a statement on Thursday, February 19.

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Magalong said Lanete will be presented to court on Friday, February 20, and that the CIDG would await the decision on where she would be detained.

The CIDG chief said there were week-long negotiations between authorities and Lanete's camp, in anticipation of the issuance of the arrest warrant. The case was raffled to the Sandiganbayan's Fourth Division on February 6.

"Representative Scott (Davies Lanete), the governor's son, communicated with us directly. We discussed that once the warrant of arrest is issued by the Sandigan, immediately he would get in touch with me," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The former lawmaker surrendered to authorities on the same day that the anti-graft court issued a warrant for her arrest, after it found probable cause to try her for plunder and graft charges based on an Ombudsman complaint.

Lanete faces plunder and 11 counts of graft.

She allegedly got P108.4 million in kickbacks from alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles from 2004 to 2010, by alloting her Priority Development Assistance Fund to ghost projects of the businesswoman's bogus nongovernmental organizations.

She also allegedly misused P112.29 million of her PDAF from 2007 to 2009.

On February 5, the Ombudsman formally filed before the Sandiganbayan plunder and graft cases against Lanete and 4 other former lawmakers for their alleged involvement in the multi-billion-peso scam.

The others are former APEC party-list representative Edgar Valdez, former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa, former Agusan del Sur representative Rodolfo Plaza, and former Cagayan de Oro representative Constantino Jaraula. – Rappler.com