Court affirms dismissal of case vs ex-Palawan gov, DA execs

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THE Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division affirmed its ruling dismissing the graft case filed against former Palawan Gov. Mario Joel Reyes, former Department of Agriculture (DA)-Regional Unit IV executive director Dennis Araullo and former officer-in-charge regional technical director Rodolfo Guieb in connection with the alleged anomalous purchase of liquid fertilizers in 2004.

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Earlier, the court granted Reyes’ as well as Araullo’s and Guieb’s plea to dismiss the cases claiming inordinate delay in the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation and resolution of the case.

The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration saying “there was no more delay in this particular case than is reasonably attributable to the ordinary processes of justice.”

But the court denied for lack of merit the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration.

In an 11-page resolution promulgated on July 10, the court said in part that “[i]nstead of disputing the length of delay, the prosecution states that the protracted period of investigation, from August 2011 to August 2013, was necessary to thresh out and resolve the numerous documents pertaining to the case. This, however, does not even begin to justify or even explain the other ten years during which this case had been pending. The prosecution makes no attempt to explain this decade-long delay in its motion for reconsideration. Thus, the delay of ten years is still left unjustified.”

It held that the March 15, 2017 resolution which dismissed the case against Guieb and Araullo and the May 8, 2017 resolution throwing out the case against Reyes “are affirmed and the case against them dismissed.”

Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, who leads the court’s Fifth Division, penned the ruling concurred in by Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz and by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

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