Sandigan allows tender of excluded evidence in Arthur Yap case

By Benjamin Pulta

September 5, 2022, 4:44 pm

<p>Arthur Yap <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Arthur Yap (File photo)

MANILA – The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court has allowed the lawyers of former Agriculture secretary and Bohol governor Arthur Yap to attach excluded evidence to court records in the graft and malversation case against him and a former congressman.

The court ruled to allow the “tender of excluded evidence” by Yap and “to make the excluded evidence form part of the case records in order to preserve a record of these pieces of evidence for appeal,” according to the decision published online on September 1.

Yap is being prosecuted for signing a Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Agriculture and National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), as well as the addendum which eventually led to the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation of former Misamis Occidental representative Marina Clarete to Flerida Alberto of the Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation (KKAMFI).

The excluded evidence includes the testimony of Josephine Relampagos, department head of the Human Resources Management and Development of the Bohol provincial government that is meant to substantiate Yap’s service record in government.

Relampagos was supposed to be Yap’s first witness on July 13 but was disallowed after the court noted that the parties, including Yap, have already “stipulated during the pre-trial that Yap was the secretary at all times relevant to the subject criminal cases.”

“Indeed, the appellate court will better understand and appreciate the assignment of error if the evidence involved is included in the record of the case,” the court said.

In 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman filed charges against Clarete, Yap, and 30 others in connection with the alleged misuse of her PHP62.63-million PDAF or pork barrel from 2007 to 2009.

Clarete was indicted for 18 counts of graft, seven counts of malversation, and 11 counts of the complex crime of malversation through falsification.

Yap, who lost his reelection bid in May, was implicated in one of the seven projects and was named co-accused on two counts of graft, malversation, and malversation through falsification.

The Ombudsman accused Clarete of irregularly endorsing KKAMFI for five projects.

The other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) tapped as partners for one project each were Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (KMBFI) and Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc. (AFPI).

Clarete allegedly disregarded the appropriations laws and Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, for selecting the NGOs without public bidding.

The foundations were found to be unaccredited and unqualified to take on the projects.

Nabcor, National Livelihood Development Corporation, and Technology Resource Center were accused of failing to examine and verify the NGOs’ credentials before releasing Clarete’s PDAF proceeds.

Officials of KKAMFI, KMBFI, and AFPI allegedly pocketed PHP45.59 million, PHP11.64 million, and PHP5.4 million, respectively, after failing to implement the projects.

They allegedly fabricated sales invoices, delivery receipts, disbursement and liquidation reports, and lists of beneficiaries. (PNA)