THE Sandiganbayan first division will hear the motion to dismiss the case filed by former Negros Occidental governor now Sugar Regulatory Administrator Rafael "Lito" Coscolluela on February 24, 2010.

"This is part of a series of hearings...as part of the process and I cannot say yet when the motion will be decided," he said.

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Coscolluela posted a bail after the Sandiganbayan ordered his arrest.

This after the Office of the Ombudsman filed a case against him and his co-accused for Violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No.3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

His co-accused include former fifth district congressman Jose Apolinario Lozada, former Provincial Health officer Dr. Ernesto Malvas, former head of the Special Projects Edwin Nacionales, Jose Amugod and Romeo B. Chan of Venmilyn Enterprises.

Lozada however, was cleared of the Ombudsman case.

Coscolluela's case stemmed from the case filed by the late Dr. Patricio Tan of the People's Graftwatch in Negros Occidental with regard the Provincial Government's purchase of medical and agricultural equipment pegged at P20 Million in June 2001.

The Ombudsman, in its resolution, cited that the evidence "sufficiently established probable cause" that respondents Coscolluela, Malvas, Nacionales and Amugod "coordinated and cooperated with each other in carrying out an otherwise irregular and illegal direct purchase of medical and agricultural equipment from Venmilyn Enterprises."

Granting the supplier unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference, despite a clear violation of existing COA circulars on the matter, the Ombudsman cited.

The Ombudsman resolution also stated that the evidence is thin with regards to the accusation that respondent Lozada conspired with the other respondents. (With Gary Doruelo, DYAF Veritas reports)