FORMER Antique Rep. Exequiel Javier and his 10 co-accused would have to stand trial for alleged corruption in connection with the purchase of a 40-ton rice mill in 2007 using P9.9 million in taxpayers’ money and its subsequent anomalous transfer to a private entity.
In the previous two years, the defendants and their lawyers filed numerous motions, raising legal and procedural questions, both in the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Ombudsman. All the appeals were denied by the Anti-Graft Court for lack of merit.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed the graft case on June 27, 2017 accusing Javier and the rest of the defendants of acting with evident bad faith, manifest partiality, and gross inexcusable negligence for allowing the transfer of the P9.9 million rice mill in favor of Greater Antique Development Cooperative (GRAND Coop.) even if the official documents showed the farm equipment was intended for the benefit of the municipality of Patnongon, Antique.
The money came from then Rep. Javier’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
An Investigation Panel created by the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to file criminal charges against Javier, former Patnongon Mayor Henry Mondejar, former Vice Mayor Johnny Flores Bacongallo, municipal councilors Gemma Cepeda, Thomas Bacaoco, Al Brian Crespo, Felix Gregorio Barrientos, Rene Philip Cayetano, Teopisto Estaris Jr., and Erika Orcasitas; and private respondent Efren Esclavilla, chairman of the Board of Directors of GRAND Coop.
Investigators said the defendants gave GRAND Coop unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference by giving away the brand-new rice mill to the private cooperative for free and despite the absence of any justification.