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Ex-PhilRice official pleads guilty to lesser offenses

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has granted the plea bargaining agreement between former Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Executive Director Ronilo A. Beronio and the prosecution which allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser offense of breach of conduct instead of graft.


Beronio was slapped with three counts of graft alongside former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap, who was also the PhilRice board chairman back then, and eight other PhilRice officials.

The charges were made because Beronio and the others reportedly entered into contracts that were grossly disadvantageous to the government. They signed Hold Out Agreements (HOA) with the Philippine National Bank (PNB), wherein PhilRice funds were used as security for the loan obligation of its employees under the PhilRice Car Plan.

Beronio himself was one of the beneficiaries of the PhilRice Car Plan.

On May 24, 2019, Beronio entered a “Not Guilty” plea to the charges. He subsequently manifested that he would like to plead guilty to three counts of violation of Section 7(a) of R.A. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards.

Both the prosecution and defense then submitted a Joint Motion to Approve Plea Bargaining Agreement on September 25, 2019.

The anti-graft court warned Beronio that he may be punished twice for the very same offense should he plead guilty to breach of conduct, so he filed a Waiver of Right Against Double Jeopardy.

Because of this, the court granted the Joint Motion and scheduled the re-arraignment of Beronio on October 2.

The five-page resolution was signed by Sixth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Kevin Narce Vivero.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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