The latest to make it to the headlines is the PhilRICE car plan policy where his name has been dragged, together with other officials who have established good record in government service.
Aside from Yap, other respondents in the charge of violation of Section 3 (h) of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act filed by the Ombudsman are Johnifer Batara, Fe Laysa, William Padolina, Winston Corvera, Gelia Castillo (deceased), Senen Bacani, and Rodolfo Undan as members of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in 2008-2009.
Also charged, each, with graft case are former executive director Ronillo Beronio and former cashier Fe Lumawag.
“It’s a harassment. Look at the board composition of PhilRICE board. There are three former cabinet secretaries- -former agriculture secretary Senen Bacani, former science and technology secretary William Padolina, ako- -secretary of agriculture, former national scientist Gelia Castillo who already died of depression- -89 years old, national scientist for rice and corn technology. Namatay (in August last year, sakit sa dughan, because na-filan ng kaso sa car plan. But they did approve or they did not avail,” Yap said.
He added that he could not just imagine how the Ombudsman studied the case.
“Can you imagine? These are the people that are being sued. Ako, former secretary as chairman. Imagine? There is a national scientist involved inside. They disparaged her memory, they disparaged name, they disparaged her integrity,” according to Yap.
He expressed disappointment and lament that it took the Ombudsman long years to resolve the case.
“I promise I will fight this case. This case has been in 2009. Hangtod karon, karon ka pa nag-decision, over a car plan that we did not approve, that we did not avail? Kinagrabehan na ni. This is the height of harassment against government officials. And, they are not doing it only to us. They are doing it to many people. Ang policydiha wholesale. Wholesale na pagkiha. Bahala na kamo, basta filan og kaso ang tanan. Diha nalang kamo saSandiganbayan magpasabot,” according to Yap.
He said the trend pissed him off, but he had no choice but to face it as he considered it as the cost of being in government service.
“I’m in a way, very angry sa kining kaso. But what can we do? These are the perils of being in government service. I assure you, we will defend ourselves and we will fight this case to the very end, considering kinsa ang naapil sa kaso. These are very good people, people who gave more than 30-40 years of their lives in service to the nation, service to the government. Tapos filan filan ra nimo og kaso?” Yap pointed out.
He further emphasized that if indeed there were violations and that the government has been put to a disadvantageous situation, the real culprit should be ascertained- -“who are the officials that made the loss to the republic possible”, and they should be the ones to be sued, not the board members who had nothing to do with the car policy.
“Wa naman sila natagaan og car plan. They’re not part of it. They did not receive any of its benefits, o ngano man ikiha, ngano man iapil sila sa kaso? Mao nga ang feeling ko nga ang Ombudsman does not study the cases,basta ang gusto lang nila nga naa silay ma-press release nga mga isog me diri. ‘We are all brave here’,matapang ang mga atong Ombudsman nga bisan mga secretary ma-filan namo na og kaso,” according to Yap.
Yap said his answer to the case is simple and that could question why he has been held liable for a car loan policy that he did not vote and did not even approve as shown in the official Philrice records.
Yap narrated that on November 5, 2008, as chairman of the Board, he attended the 52nd meeting of the Board of Trustees where the possibility of setting up a car plan to be utilized by qualified and deserving Philrice employees—but subject to guidelines most advantageous to the government—was discussed.
On January 30, 2009, the PhilRice director issued Car Plan Administrative Order.
Yap clarified that he had no participation in the formulation of the said Order; neither did he at any time consented, approved, or acquiesced to the rules and guidelines covering such car plan.
On June 19, 2009, the 54th BOT meeting was held where the Car Plan Guidelines was discussed and allegedly approved.
However, Yap was not present during that 54th meeting.
On this, Yap further clarified that he was not in the Board meeting. Thereafter, neither did he availed of any car because of this car plan.
Citing these facts, Yap questioned why he has been held liable.
“Simple lang ang akong tubag. Sa una pa hangtod karon- -more than four years na nga giimbestigahan sa Ombudsman ang kining kaso. And very simple lang ang maong kaso. No. 1- -Was I able to avail of the a car plan? Natagaan ba ako ng car plan? No, wa man ko natagaan ng car plan. No. 2- -Did I approve the car plan policy? Wa naman. During the board meeting, wa man ko nitambong kadtong gi-approved sa board of directors meeting in 2009. Wa naman ko nitambong,” Yap clarified.
On this, Yap questioned how the Ombudsman go about the complaints.
“Mao nga, what are you holding me liable for? I did not get a car. I did not buy a car. I did not benefit from the plan. I did not approve the plan. And, they’re just including me tungod ako ang chairman? Asa naman ka nakakita sa criminal law nga pwede kang iapil nga wa ka gi-commit nga any act or any felonious activity nga iapil ka sa kaso?” Yap pointed out.
He said that the case appears to him as a harassment case.
“Sobra na ka harassment ang ginagawa ng Ombudsman. So, that’s my simple explanation. Very easy to explain. In less than 30 seconds, it’s very easy to explain. Did congressman avail of a car plan? No. Did he benefit from a car plan? No. Did he buy a car? No. Did he approve the policy? No. Did he there at the board meeting? No. Why are they including me? I don’t really understand,” Yap said.
Considering that he was the chairman at that time, Yap explained that many proposals would come in every Board meeting like a proposal from seed company if their seeds could be allowed for trial in PhilRICE facilities, proposal to buy equipment; and so many other proposals and partnerships.
“You are free to propose. There are so many proposals sa government corporations. Bisan pa asa ngagovernment corporation, government agencies, daghan ang mga proposals. But you have to be sure. The board has to approve. Ingon nila giapproved ng June 2009. I think that was the allegation. Nitambong ba ako? Was I there during the final approval? Wa naman ko. Wa naman ko diha sa final approval. So, ngano iapil man ko sa kaso? Ngano man ikiha ko? Then, after they approved, natagaan ba ako? Nakapalit ba ko og car sa car plan? Wa naman. I did not avail of the car plan,” Yap pointed out.
He also explained that people might think sometimes that they were just staging like in a scenario where an official would not show up in a board meeting, but would later benefit from what had been approved during such board meeting; and this case, availing of the car plan.
However, it must be emphasized that he did not benefit from such car plan policy after it was approved as he never availed of a car plan, and he was not a signatory to the approval of the car plan policy.
“Wa naman ko gi-avail sa loan. Nothing. Wala ako sa approval, wala ako sa availment. So, asa ko nasayup.And, I did not sign (the car plan policy),” Yap pointed out.