Marinduque gov pleads not guilty to fertilizer fund raps
Juancho Mahusay (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Marinduque Gov. Carmencita Reyes pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of graft and technical malversation of public funds filed against her before the Sandiganbayan. 

Reyes was implicated in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, together with some agriculture officials, for allegedly misusing funds intended for poor farmers in 2004. 

Earlier former congressman Lord Allan Jay Velasco, who for his part was battling an electoral case against Reyes’ daughter Regina for the Marinduque congressional post, had lamented the slow pace of the graft case although it was filed as early as two years ago.

On Tuesday, Reyes’ lawyer tried to ask the anti-graft court to defer the governor’s arraignment until the motion to quash they earlier filed has been decided. However, the Sandiganbayan justices ruled to proceed with the arraignment on the same day.

The Sandiganbayan set the pre-trial on March 10 and 11 while Reyes’ lawyer was given 15 days to submit their pre-trial brief, a document where they will identify the witnesses and evidence they will present. 

The preliminary conference will be on Feb. 13. 

In his earlier statement, Velasco said Reyes appeared to be getting special treatment from government prosecutors who failed to file a motion to suspend her in accordance with the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. 

“This is patent double standard,” Velasco said. 

Reyes has a pending petition for the issuance of a temporary restraining order against her trial before the Supreme Court. 

During her arraignment, Reyes denied the charges. “You know, it is strange. In April 2004, I was visited by an assistant secretary that we were candidate (to be an) organic haven of the Philippines. So why should I get chemical fertilizers?” she told reporters after her arraignment. 

“So I did not get it. If they are saying that I have something to do with this, I don’t know anything about it,” she added.

The cases, filed in June 2011, involved allegations that funds meant for poor farmers were used to purchase equipment and unsuitable fertilizers from favored suppliers without the required public bidding. 

Prosecutors said P5 million of the funds went to Marinduque.

ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT CARMENCITA REYES IN APRIL LORD ALLAN JAY VELASCO MARINDUQUE MARINDUQUE GOV ON TUESDAY REYES SANDIGANBAYAN
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