The Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division has affirmed its ruling that found former Siquijor governor Orlando Fua Jr. “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of obstruction of justice.
He was charged in 2014 with violation of Section 1(e) of Presidential Decree (PD) 1829.
The case stemmed from his alleged obstruction in 2010 of the service of a search warrant issued by a Regional Trial Court against a suspect who was supposedly found in possession of shabu.
“In sum, we find no cogent reason to justify reconsideration of the herein stated decision,” the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division said in part in an eight-page minute resolution promulgated on March 2 wherein it denied for lack of merit Fua’s motion for reconsideration.
The court, in its decision promulgated on January 19, fined Fua P6,000 and said “in case of insolvency,” he “shall be required to undergo subsidiary imprisonment.”
“Accused Fua Jr. shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office and to pay the costs,” it said.
The decision prompted him to file a motion for reconsideration asking the court to exonerate him instead of the charge.
In its resolution, the Seventh Division said the motion for reconsideration filed on February 1 and set for hearing on February 16 was “a mere scrap of paper” because its “hearing was set beyond the period specified under the Rules in contravention of the mandatory character of Sec. 5, Rule 15.”
Sections 4 and 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court provide that a motion must be set for hearing on a date not later than 10 days after its filing.
The court found that the motion still lacked merit even on the case’s substantial aspect.
“Notably, no new matters have been raised by accused to warrant a reconsideration of the judgment rendered in this case. The arguments reiterated and later amplified, failed to convince us to vacate the court’s assailed decision,” it said.
Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses penned the resolution, which was concurred in by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, who leads the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division, and by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.
The court said in its decision promulgated on January 19 that “[u]ndeniably,” Fua “was aware of the service of a search warrant” and that “[h]e acknowledged this when he testified that he received an anonymous text message prompting him to proceed to the scene of the operation…”
“It should be noted that what transpired was a normal police operation for the purpose of ensnaring drug personalities in the province. There are no matters that involved the province itself or an immediate concern that would require the actual intervention by the provincial governor himself. However, instead of keeping his hands off by simply acknowledging the search warrant validly issued by the court and allow the police officers to perform their task continuously, accused interfered by repeatedly challenging its validity and intervened in a legitimate police operation,” it also said in part.
The court added that Fua’s “presence at the scene of the operations and his incessant probing on the validity of the operation strengthens the prosecution’s claim that he willfully interfered or obstructed the service of the search warrant to his childhood friend.”