• Court drops graft case vs former mayor

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    THE Sandiganbayan’s First Division dismissed the graft charges filed against former Mayor Mary Joyce Roquero of Valderrama, Antique over the alleged anomalous lease of a sound system for a festival.

    In a resolution, the court found that the Office of the Ombudsman’s (OMB) preliminary investigation took four years and close to four months from the time the complaint was filed on October 24, 2012 before the cases were filed, violating her right to speedy case disposition.

    “To the Court’s mind, the length of time spent by the OMB is not commensurate to the simplicity of the issues of these cases, and considering further that the administrative aspect was already dismissed as early as September 19, 2013, and which dismissal was approved by OMB [Conchita] Carpio Morales on January 9, 2014. This means that these cases must have already been subjected, at least initially, to the examination and analysis of the OMB during these years. Thus, the Court finds it unjustifiable that more years are required to dispose of the criminal aspect of the case.”

    The prosecution had argued that there was no inordinate delay in the preliminary investigation and explained that the different levels of preparation, review and approval of the resolution caused the three-year interim from the filing of the counter-affidavit to the issuance of the resolution.

    Associate Justice Efren De La Cruz, who leads the court’s First Division, penned the ruling; Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez concurred.

    Meanwhile, the prosecution has filed a 15-page motion for reconsideration maintaining that there was no inordinate delay in the prosecution of the case.

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