Warrant out for Clavel’s arrest

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Saturday, May 25, 2013


THE Sandiganbayan has issued a warrant of arrest for former congresswoman Clavel Asas-Martinez and six others for the graft and malversation of public funds cases they face before the anti-graft court.

Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos confirmed the warrant was issued last March 18, or before the defense filed a motion for the court to confirm if there was probable cause and to quash the information.

Lawyer Jaime Cabrera, executive clerk of court of the Sandiganbayan Second Division, told the justices during the hearing last May 17 that they had yet to release the warrant. This was reflected in the court’s transcript of stenographic notes.

The anti-graft court heard the defense’s motions that day, with Justices Baldos, Sandiganbayan Second Division chair; Napoleon Inoturan; and Oscar Hererra present.

Other respondents

The case was filed against Clavel and six others for keeping about P10 million in public funds in the fourth district congresswoman’s private account between 2002 and 2003. The funds were allotted for the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP).

Assistant Special Prosecutor Froilan Dayco filed the cases against Clavel, her son and former Bogo City mayor Celestino “Tining” Martinez III and her daughter Ma. Cielo A. Martinez, who was then GSP treasurer.

Also indicted were then municipal treasurer Rhett Minguez, municipal accountant Cresencio Verdida, bookkeeper Rhodariza Kilantang and GSP Cebu Council cashier Julieta Quino.

Dayco said the respondents conspired to “misappropriate, embezzle and take away” the P10 million that was part of the then congresswoman’s Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Bail

No bail was recommended for the respondents for allegedly violating the Revised Penal Code. On the other hand, bail was set at P40,000 each for the charge of violating the anti-graft law.

Tanodbayan Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the filing of the cases against the respondents last Nov. 23.

Both cases were raffled off to the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division last Dec. 18.

During the May 17 hearing, Justice Baldos said the motion for judicial determination of probable cause was moot since the court already issued the arrest warrants.

Defense lawyer Richard Palpal-Latoc asked when the warrant was issued.

Guillermo Nacario, Jr., court executive assistant, told Baldos the warrant was issued before the defense filed the motion.

“Hindi po yata pina-release yung warrant kasi may dumating na motion (The release of the warrant was withheld because the motion arrived),” Nacario told the justices.

Clarification

But Baldos clarified that since the warrant was signed on a Friday, she instructed the court personnel to release it on Monday “in fairness to the accused.” “But, it (arrest warrant) was already signed. It does not depend on the release, (but on) the issuance or the implementation,” she said.

Latoc said they filed the motion because there was no warrant yet at that time.

The lawyer said the preliminary investigation and the filing of case information by the ombudsman violated the right of the accused to a speedy trial.

“I thought you wanted speedy trial but you are the one delaying,” Baldos told Latoc.

Latoc also said the allegation of conspiracy against the accused is “unfounded and baseless” and that there was no probable cause to indict them.

But before the court could act on the motion to quash, Baldos explained that the accused must submit first to the jurisdiction of the court.

“Why don’t you just ask the accused to submit herself to the jurisdiction of the court and then ask for petition for bail?” Baldos told Latoc, who said he would discuss the matter with his client.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 26, 2013.

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