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Walang Takas! Sandiganbayan junks Hagedorn’s bid for plea bargain on massive hidden wealth

The Sandiganbayan has rejected the attempts of former Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn to enter into a plea bargaining deal to get a lighter penalty in connection with the alleged failure to declare numerous properties and business interests in his Statements of Asset, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) from 2004 to 2012.

In a recent 7-page resolution, the court’s 3rd Division denied Hagedorn’s motion for reconsideration of its November 25, 2019 ruling that first disapproved his agreement with Ombudsman prosecutors.
This meant Hagedorn would continue to face trial for a total of 27 criminal cases, or nine counts each of perjury, violation of Section 7 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and violation of Section 8 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

Hagedorn wanted to plead guilty to the Code of Conduct charges and get away with paying a P45,000 fine in exchange for the withdrawal of the perjury and graft charges—which could have been punishable by as much as 33 years’ imprisonment.

He insisted that he never lied about the value of his assets. Arguing substantial compliance, he claimed he complied with the law as he understood it. He argued that the plea bargain will serve the best interest of justice and of the State.

The court, however, said these arguments were matters best proven with evidence by letting the case go to trial.

“It is settled that the presence or absence of the elements of the crime is evidentiary in nature and is a matter of defense that may be best passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits,” read the resolution penned by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.

The court added that if the prosecution were successful in the trial, the imposition of the penalty of imprisonment would be appropriate appropriate, “considering the gravity and duration of the purported misdeclaration of the accused in his SALN.”

Hagedorn was accused of failing to declare 59 properties with a total area of 132.57 hectares (1.3 million square meters). These properties are scattered around 22 barangays within the city and include: 40 residential lots, 10 agricultural lots, four commercial lots, three residential buildings, and two commercial buildings.

Hagedorn also allegedly failed to declare his position as incorporator, president, board member or stockholder in four firms—Palawan Jolly Foods Corp., Puerto Princesa Broadcasting Corp., Green Forest Blue Waters Corp., and Hagedorn Travel and Tours, Inc.—for his 2004 to 2008 SALNs

The undisclosed business interests increased to five beginning 2009, as he allegedly took on the position of incorporator, president, board chairman and stockholder in Radiant Homes Land Development, Inc.

Near the end of his term, the undisclosed business interests increased to six, as he allegedly became incorporator, president, board chairman and stockholder of Puerto Princesa Bee Foods Corp. This was alleged undeclared for the purpose of the 2012 SALN.

Hagedorn also allegedly possessed five vehicles that he failed to disclose for his 2004 SALN. By 2012, this had increased to 45.

Walang Takas! Sandiganbayan junks Hagedorn’s bid for plea bargain on massive hidden wealth Walang Takas! Sandiganbayan junks Hagedorn’s bid for plea bargain on massive hidden wealth Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 3:19:00 AM Rating: 5

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