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Motion for reconsideration filed over Gov. Lee’s graft conviction

By Mar S. Arguelles CASTILLA, Sorsogon --- Former Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee said on Tuesday that he has filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) with the Sandiganbayan concerning the latter’s decision convicting him for graft and meted him with six to 10-years imprisonment in connection with the purchase of overpriced fertilizer in 2004. Lee in an ambush interview said the judicial system allows those convicted by the courts to file and submit a motion for reconsideration. “What I did was to file today (Tuesday) my MR just in time of the deadline given to me by the Sandiganbayan,” he said. Lee, citing the rules of court, said the hearing of his motion for reconsideration would be acted upon by the graft court within 10-days upon its filing. The 77-year old former provincial governor said he is confident that his MR would stand and be heard by the justices, then after the hearing, the MR would be either considered or denied. Asked what were the strong arguments he presented to merit an acquittal, Lee said there were no testimonies of witnesses, documents, and pieces of evidence that would show that there were substitutions of prices in the purchase of the fertilizers being questioned. “It caught me by surprise that the earlier testimony of the Auditor who was the witness of the prosecution said there was no substitution but the prosecution said there was,” Lee said. Lee claimed that the prosecution even failed to present testimonies, documents pointing that the prices were substituted, including the charges that he and his accountant connived with each other in overpricing the commodity. “No witnesses were presented, no statement from them were issued that say that we have connived,” Lee said. On the accusation that the prices of the commodity in the canvass were rigged, Lee, citing a Supreme Court ruling, said that to determine a commodity to be overpriced it should be canvassed in the place where it was purchased. “Why should a commodity purchased in Sorsogon be canvasseed in Catanduanes or any other place? I think there is something wrong with the procedure,” the elder Lee said. To substantiate his claim, Lee cited the case of former Paranaque Mayor Joey Marquez who was also charged for graft for purchasing thousands of broom. He said the case was dismissed by the SC because of flaws in the canvassing procedures. Asked if politics is behind the graft case, he was quick to say that the possibility is always there but pointed out that he has “retired” from entering politics. “I am 77 years old and have been in politics since 1970 for 47 years.” In the 33-page decision penned by Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz, the court also ordered Lee and Hernandez to jointly pay the Sorsogon provincial government P2.59 million in damages. The three officials had been accused of causing undue injury to the government by approving the purchase of 2,133 liters of Bio Nature Liquid Fertilizer for P1,500 per liter from supplier Feshan Philippines Inc. The court, however, said the market price of the fertilizer at that time was only P180 per liter. Lee was held accountable in the procurement and payment of the subject fertilizers. “On the other hand, accused Hernandez … aided accused Lee in the release of the funds from the province of Sorsogon’s treasury to Feshan Phils. Inc.,” the decision read.

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