Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr. said the arrogance and abuse of power by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez fueled the arrest warrant issued against him by the Sandiganbayan.
The anti-graft court on Wednesday, February 21, issued the warrant of arrest for one count of graft against Floirendo.
The case stemmed from a case filed with the Ombudsman by Alvarez in connection with the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Bureau and correction (BuCor) and the Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) owned by the Floirendo family.
Alvarez, Floirendo’s former friend and political ally who represents Davao del Norte’s First District, claimed that the JVA was illegal and disadvantageous to the government, and that Floirendo signed the JVA while sitting as a congressman.
In elevating the case to the Sandiganbayan, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Floirendo violated a constitutional prohibition banning public officials from having direct interest in government projects.
The Sandiganbayan set bail for Floirendo at P30,000.
The JVA involved about 5,300 hectares of reservation area of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol), a Bucor agency, that Tadeco converted into a banana plantation.
Foirendo, in a statement on Wednesday, welcomed the case that he said would give him a chance to clear his name.
“My only hope is for the Speaker to insulate the courts from his established brand of maneuvering and undue influence. Despite such setback, I maintain my faith in our justice system because I have not done anything wrong,” he said.
“In the end, I am confident that I will prevail because the truth is on my side,” said Floirendo who described the case as a reflection of Alvarez’s “abuse of power and arrogance.”
“The hasty filing of graft charges against me before the Sandiganbayan and the subsequent issuance of the warrant of arrest in connection with the Bucor-Tadeco deal is a clear sign of the existence of abuse of power and arrogance on the part of the Speaker,” he said.
“While I welcome the hastily-filed complaint, I would like to point out that this transgression on the part of the Speaker is not only political but a veiled attempt at grabbing the deal for his business and personal interest,” Floirendo added.
Floirendo said the Tadeco-BuCor deal was legal and expressed confidence that the court would uphold the validity of the JVA.
“All things considered, the filing of the case will reveal that the more than 3-decades old Bucor-Tadeco deal which benefits thousands of inmates and their families and has provided livelihood to thousands of residents and workers, is valid and legal,” Floirendo said.