A group of concerned citizens from Romblon province including some Manila-based journalists are urging the Sandiganbayan to speed-up the court trial against incumbent Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona, who is facing graft charges before the anti-graft court.
The Romblon Alliance Against Corruption and Dynasty (RAACD) led by Manila-based journalist Nick Ferrer said that Madrona and two other former ranking provincial agricultural employees has pending graft charges with the Sixth Division of the Sandiganbayan for several years now. The last hearing of the case was held in late 2019 yet and the succeeding hearings scheduled between March to May 2020 had been “postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, since May last year, the anti-graft court has not reset a single hearing and the consequent delay may allegedly work to the advantage of the accused, particularly Madrona who is likely to seek reelection in next year’s congressional race, according to Ferrer.
The graft charges against Madrona, who was a Governor at that time, were filed in 2004 by former Romblon, Romblon Vice Mayor Lyndon Molino.
The case was elevated to the Sandiganbayan in 2017 after the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause against Madrona and his co-accused for violations of the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. One of Madrona’s co-accused was earlier dismissed from service by the Ombudsman.
“We appeal to the Sandiganbayan to hasten the disposition of this case in the highest interest of justice and good, honest governance in our beloved province. Madrona does not represent any of these virtues,” newspaper publisher Joey Venancio said in a press statement.
In August 5, 2019, the Sandiganbayan has ordered the suspension of Madrona for 90 days in connection with the graft case he is facing for the alleged irregular purchase of fertilizers in 2004 worth P4.8 million.
The Sandiganbayan said that the charge against Madrona is valid, citing the Supreme Court’s decision dismissing the accused’s claim that the Sandiganbayan abused its discretion when it denied his motion to quash the information and dismiss the case.
RAACD member and advertising executive Arlyn Servañez appealed to the anti-graft court to expedite the graft case since the Commission on Audit found the transaction to be grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Servañez also pointed out that Romblon populace are waiting for the court decision since the filing of the certificate of candidacy for the 2022 elections is set on October, in which they want to learn from the anti-graft court if Madrona is qualified to seek any government position if he is found guilty.
The Sandiganbayan and Congressman Madrona is yet to issue a statement as of press time.