Former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. asked the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division to throw out the graft complaint filed against him in connection with the alleged anomalous procurement of two vehicles in 2003.
Abalos said the Office of the Ombudsman violated his right to speedy justice because it took eight years to finish its investigation.
“There were no special circumstances to justify the Ombudsman’s delay in concluding its preliminary investigation. The delay of over eight years could also not be attributed to Abalos,” the defense said.
The alleged “inordinate delay” covered the period from the fact-finding investigation up to the time the case was filed.
Abalos said he received a second order on September 29, 2014 directing him to file his counter-affidavit but he did not receive a “first order.”
A complaint dated October 9, 2008 was attached to the order.
Abalos filed his counter-affidavit a month after he received the second order.
The Ombudsman then issued a ruling approved on August 5, 2015 which found basis to file the case in court.
This prompted Abalos to file a motion for reconsideration, but the Ombudsman maintained its ruling and filed the complaint at the Sandiganbayan on October 7, 2016.
“It is clear from the foregoing that the Ombudsman’s delay in filing the Information is unreasonable, oppressive, and arbitrary. This delay is a violation of Abalos’ right to the speedy disposition of his case. Therefore, as jurisprudence dictates, the Information against him should be quashed,” the defense said.
“Because of the lapse of time, Abalos himself could not recall with clarity the events that allegedly happened in 2003, and makes it extremely difficult for him to assemble his witnesses,” it added. “Abalos, who is now 82 years old, should no longer be subjected to the strain, anxiety, and distress of trial. He should be allowed to lead a relatively tranquil life in his twilight years. But the peace of mind that he longs for is now being unfairly denied him by Ombudsman, who through its own fault, took an unreasonably long eight years to conclude the preliminary investigation of his case.”
The Ombudsman alleged that Abalos caused the procurement of two vehicles in the amount of P1.7 million from a firm without public bidding.