By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has granted the travel motion of Bohol 3rd District Rep. Arthur Yap, who plans to go to China on October 10-12 as part of his function as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Yap said he was invited by Megaworld Corporation CEO Andrew Tan to be the guest of honor at the launch of Megaworld Corporation’s first residential development outside the Philippines on October 11 at 9:30 a.m.
He will depart from Manila on October 10 via Philippine Airlines flight PR356, and will fly back to the country from Quanzhou Jinjiang International Airport on October 12 via Philippine Airlines flight PR357. He will be staying at Quanzhou Guest House in Quanzhou, China.
In his travel motion, Yap assured the court that he will return as scheduled.
“He has no qualms facing the charges against him, knowing that he is innocent of them,” the motion read. “It bears stressing that he never attempted to flee the country despite the numerous cases filed against him before this Honorable Court and the Office of the Ombudsman.”
Yap, who is a former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary, has been slapped with one violation each of Section 3(e) and 3(g) of R.A. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to the reportedly irregular P15.8-million car loan plans given to the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) from 2008 to 2009.
From 2008 to 2009, Yap was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
In the charge sheet filed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III Russell Labor-Lay-At, Yap was accused along with PhilRice Board of Trustees members – Johnifer Batara, Fe Laysa, William Padolina, Winston Corvera, Gelia Castillo, Senen Bacani, Rodolfo Undan, and Executive Director Ronillo Beronio and Cashier Fe Lumawag.
They were accused of instituting a car plan that allowed several employees to obtain personal loans from Philippine National Bank (PNB) for the purchase of private cars.
Beronio and Lumawag entered into a contract with the bank and signed Hold Out Agreements (HOA) to enable the PhilRice Car Plan, even though it subjected “PhilRice’s deposit with PNB to the agreement that said deposit will not be withdrawn until the car/personal loans guaranteed are paid in full amounting to P15,780,000.”
At the same time, the private cars were even leased by PhilRice for the official use of all the beneficiaries despite the fact that they were still entitled to transportation allowances.
As a result, PhilRice was not able to utilize its deposits with PNB during the subsistence of the loans and its failure to obtain the best possible car rental deals, among other things.