• Court junks graft case vs Devanadera

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    The Sandiganbayan’s First Division has thrown out the graft complaint filed against former Government Corporate Counsel Agnes Devanadera over a compromise deal between a company and the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC), which she supposedly signed.

    In a 12-page resolution promulgated on May 16, the court granted Devanadera’s motion to dismiss the case citing the inordinate delay by the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation as reason.

    The court earlier threw out the graft case filed against former PNCC board chairman Arthur Aguilar; former president and Ma. Theresa Defensor, and former board members Ottomama Benito, Enrique Cuejilo Jr., Roy Eduardo Lucero, Fermin Lusung Sr; Jeremy Parulan, and Antonio Villar.

    “In the present case, it took the Office of the Ombudsman over six (6) years to complete the preliminary investigation, reckoned from the filing of the complaint on October 12, 2010, until the filing of the Information before this Court on November 25, 2016. To the mind of this Court, such delay is inordinate and unreasonable,” the court said.

    The prosecution said the case should not be dismissed because Devanadera “never asserted” her right to speedy case disposition.

    But the court said that “it bears stressing that the assertion or non-assertion of the right to a speedy disposition of one’s case is just one of the factors to consider in determining whether or not the right has been violated.”

    “Corollarily, the accused’s non-assertion of his right does not ipso facto rules out inordinate delay,” the court said.

    The court lifted the hold departure order it earlier issued against Devanadera and ordered the release of the cash bond she had posted for her provisional liberty.

    The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case alleging that the terms of the compromise agreement between PNCC and Marubeni Corporation’s successor-in-interest, Radstock Securities Limited, were “contrary to law.”

    The PNCC, in the agreement, “recognized its purported liability to Marubeni in the amount of at least P6.185 billion and agreed to pay Radstock the settlement amount through the transfer of 19 real properties owned by the government, assignment of PNCC common shares, and assignment of half of PNCC’s 6-percent share in the gross toll revenue of the Manila North Tollways Corporation from 2008 to 2035.”

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