THE legal counsel of Iloilo City Lone District Rep. Jerry P. Treñas denied any irregularity in the release of government funds for the construction of the Iloilo Press Club (IPC) building almost 15 years ago.
Atty. JJ Justiniano, legal counsel for Treñas, made the statement after the Ombudsman indicted the congressman for violating Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
The Ombudsman accused Treñas before the Sandiganbayan of giving “unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference” for the release of the P500,000 priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of Senator Loren Legarda to IPC “which was not an accredited non-government organization (NGO) of the city.”
The money was used for the construction of the IPC building at Brgy. San Pedro, Molo, Iloilo City.
The Ombudsman also accused the congressman of violating Commission on Audit’s Circular No. 96-003 for failure to monitor the implementation of the project and failure to require fund liquidation.
Justiniano said they have yet to receive an official copy of the case.
He also refrained from revealing their next move as he wanted to “catch by surprise” the congressman’s accusers.
“Di ko pwedeng i-discuss kasi trial strategy yan. Di dapat malaman ng kalaban ko kung ano ang gagawin namin. Kakaraffle lang ng kaso na yan last Friday and kaka-assign sa division ng Sandiganbayan,” Justiniano told The Daily Guardian in a phone interview.
Justiniano said they are awaiting the Sandiganbayan to issue a warrant of arrest against his client.
“Kapag nag-issue ng warrant of arrest eh di magpo-post lang ng bail. Pwede rin naman na kahit walang warrant magpo-post na kami ng bail,” he added.
The recommended bail for the case is P30,000.
Justiniano said Treñas was not remiss in releasing the fund to the press club.
“Pwede naman na yung PDAF ng congressman o senador pwedeng ipadaan sa local government. Walang problema doon,” he said.
He said the congressman cannot be held accountable for releasing the fund and that the latter did not violate COA policy.
“Yun yung akala nila. Di nila naiintindihan ang sinasabi nila,” he said.