By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
Former Romblon Governor Eleandro Jesus Madrona and his co-accused, provincial agriculturist Geishler Fiedcan Fadri and senior agriculturist Oscar Placito Galos, are asking the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division to hold their complainant for indirect contempt because he was already saying they were “sure to be convicted.”
They filed a petition for indirect contempt, saying that complainant Lyndon Molino violated the sub judice rule when he discussed the case in public and declared their conviction as if it was already certain.
The sub judice rule prohibits comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings in order to avoid prejudging the issue or influencing the court.
On February 20, 2019, Molina used his personal Facebook account and posted on the group called “Romblon Community.” In it, he shared a link to a story about the conviction of Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee, who was earlier found guilty of graft due to the fertilizer fund scam.
He then commented that the case and Madrona’s were the same. The petition stressed that it created a “public impression that since Governor Raul Lee was convicted by Sandiganbayan, petitioner Governor Eleandro Madrona will also be convicted by the Sandiganbayan.”
“It is a traditional conviction of civilized society everywhere that courts and juries, in the decision of issues of facts and law should be immune from every extraneous influence,” the petition read.
“In this case, respondent Molino’s above public pronouncements have attempted if not succeeded in trying to unduly influence the Court which prejudices the accused’s or petitioner’s right to a fair trial,” it added.
They prayed that the court orders Molino to answer the complaint for indirect contempt within 15 days upon receipt of the order, and be ordered to immediately stop discussing the case in public.
They also want him penalized with a fine of P30,000 and imprisonment not exceeding six months.
Madrona has been slapped with a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the P4.8 million fertilizer fund scam back in 2004.
He reportedly awarded the contract of liquid fertilizers to Feshan Philippines Inc. without undergoing the mandatory public bidding.
Madrona was accused of conspiring with Fadri and Galos, together with Feshan representative Elisa Morales and former provincial administrator Joel Angcaco Sy, treasurer Ruby Fababier, and assistant provincial government development head Anthony Rugas in awarding the amount of P4,863,823.19 to the said company through direct contracting.
This is for the purchase of 3,333 bottles of Bio Nature liquid organic fertilizer, which cost P1,500 per bottle.