The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order the Sandiganbayan to suspend the application of the inordinate delay doctrine that the anti-graft court had used in junking several graft complaints.
“The core issue presented in the instant petition is how the legal concept of ‘inordinate delay’ should be operationalized vis-à-vis the constitutional admonition that ‘[a]ll persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.’ While it is well-established in jurisprudence that criminal cases may be dismissed on the ground of denial of the accused’s right to speedy trial, the concept of ‘inordinate delay’ that amounts to a violation of the said right has eluded exact definition,” the Ombudsman said.
“Apart from the fact that the resolution of this issue will have implications on matters of transcendental public importance and the orderly administration of justice, it will also necessitate a review, re-examination, or even modification and reversal of relevant existing jurisprudence,” it said.
The Ombudsman wants the high court en banc to rule on the case because of its implications on jurisprudence.
It argued that the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of cases on the ground of inordinate delay “has progressively been premised on overly strict and almost unrealistic standards.”
The Ombudsman attributed the delay in the filing of cases or submission of petitions at the Sandiganbayan to “enormous workloads, chronic understaffing, voluminous evidence to be examined and unavailability of witnesses and records.”
The anti-graft court’s refusal to acknowledge the office’s limitations “is bordering on the unfair and unjust,” it added, thus the intervention of the SC en banc “is needed to correct this imbalance and preserve the orderly administration of justice.”
“The far-reaching consequences of public respondent Sandiganbayan’s interpretation of ‘inordinate delay’ makes the instant Petition the perfect vehicle for the Honorable Supreme Court to clearly spell out the contours, extent and delimitations of this confusing concept,” the Ombudsman said.
The anti-graft court recently dismissed the graft case filed in 2015 against former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) President Winston Garcia and several others because the Office of the Ombudsman sat on the case for 10 years.
The case stemmed from the allegedly anomalous award of the GSIS eCard project to a bank in 2004.