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Devanadera seeks graft case dismissal anew

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 4/21/2017 Bordadora, Norman
Sandiganbayan thumbnail © Jannielyn Bigtas, GMA News Sandiganbayan thumbnail

Former Government Corporate Counsel Agnes Devanadera has asked the Sandiganbayan anew to dismiss the graft case filed against her in connection with the compromise agreement signed by the state-owned Philippine National Construction Company (PNCC) with a British lending entity for the payment of its P6-billion loan.

Devanadera, who also served as Solicitor General, attended her scheduled arraignment on Thursday before the anti-graft court's First Division, but it was cancelled and moved to June 8 pending resolution of her urgent motion.

In her urgent motion, Devanadera asked the court to drop the case against her, citing the recent dismissal of the cases against 12 former PNCC officials whom she was accused with.

Like in the case of the PNCC officials, Devanadera asserted that her right to speedy disposition of her case was violated by the Ombudsman.

Citing the timeline of the case, Devanadera said the Ombudsman took six years—from the filing of the complaint by former PNCC president Luis Sison in October 2010 to the filing of the case information to the Sandiganbayan on November 2016—to finish its preliminary investigation.

"Clearly, the period of almost six years for the Ombudsman to complete the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by Sison against the Accused is unjustified, oppressive and vexatious and in clear violation of the constitutional right of the Accused to the speedy disposition of her case," her motion read.

Devanadera said that the court's ruling on the dismissal of her co-accused former PNCC officials should also apply to her "not only because the facts and issues are the same in the instant case but also because she is affected by and should benefit from it."

The former Solicitor General was charged with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the deal with creditor Radstock Securities Inc. because it contained concessions which were disadvantageous to the government.

According to the case information filed by the Ombudsman, Devanadera advised the PNCC through letters dated January 26, 2006 and February 10, 2006 to enter into an amicable settlement with Radstock, the successor-in-interest of Marubeni Corp. relative to a loan worth more than P2 billion which was guaranteed by the government-owned corporation 26 years ago.

The Ombudsman said Devanadera approved the anomalous deal even if the PNCC board had no power to compromise the settlement amount, and the state-owned company cannot assign the toll fees to private entities like Marubeni and Radstock.

In addition, the Ombudsman said the PNCC has no power to transfer government-owned real property to Radstock in the absence of public bidding and without compliance with existing property transfer laws.

The deal, in which the PNCC practically assigned all of its assets to Radstock, was likewise deemed prejudicial by the Ombudsman to the state-owned firm’s other creditors, including the national government.

In 2009, the Supreme Court voted to strike down the deal.

Devanadera had earlier asked the dismissal of her case in a 31-page motion for judicial determination of probable cause.

She said the Ombudsman erred when it held that there is probable cause to charge her with graft based on a Supreme Court ruling on the deal since the decision never indicated she was “privy” to the compromise agreement.

The SC, she argued, never held she was accountable for the agreement as it was only the PNCC Board of Directors which was liable for it.

This motion, however, remains pending before the court. —NB, GMA News

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