Sandiganbayan junks ex-Davao congressman Floirendo's appeal vs graft conviction

The Sandiganbayan thumbed down the appeal of former Davao del Norte 2nd District representative Antonio Floirendo Jr which sought to reverse a graft conviction handed down in August 2020.

In a resolution dated January 22, 2021, the anti-graft court's special division rejected Floirendo's motion for reconsideration which challenged the guilty verdict after he was found to have unlawful interest in the land lease contract between Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) and the Bureau of Corrections.

Prosecutors found that he was holding 75,000 shares when the lease contract was extended on May 21, 2003, while he was an incumbent representative.

In his appeal, Floirendo said the 75,000 shares made up less than 1% of the total stocks of Tadeco and that he was not involved in the actual management of the company or the negotiations. He also claimed that holding "mere nominal interest" in certain government contracts is not illegal.

The Sandiganbayan, however, emphasized that mere holding of interest is prohibited, not just when conflict of interest is present. Violation of Republic Act No. 3019, it added, may happen through actual intervention and mere holding of prohibited interest.

"Had the framers intended the provision to apply only to actual conflict of interest situations or to those involving actual use of influence, the provision would have been worded as such," the court said.

"But as worded in its current form, the provision is intended to be all-encompassing and all-embracing, to apply to a wide range of situations from which conflict of interest or such use of influence may arise."

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez. Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Efren de la Cruz concurred with the ruling, while Associate Justices Kevin Narce Vivero and Ronald Moreno dissented.

Floirendo is facing 6 to 8 years in prison and perpetual disqualification from holding public office. ā€“ Rappler.com