The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division has found basis to try the perjury case filed against former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman Efraim Genuino which stemmed from his alleged failure to disclose several real properties in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for the years 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.
The Office of the Ombudsman accused Genuino of not disclosing real properties in Bangkal, Makati City; Tunasan, Muntinlupa City, and Dita, Sta. Rosa, Laguna which were registered under his name and his wife’s.
Genuino denied the charges, saying that he “declared all his assets in his SALNs for the years 2002 to 2005.” His lawyers said certified true copies of his SALNs were attached to his counter-affidavit.
But in resolving his motion, the anti-graft court said that “[t]he issues raised by the accused-movant in his motion are matters of defense which are best ventilated and passed upon during the trial of the case.”
The defense also argued that the alleged “inordinate delay” of almost four years in the termination of the Office of the Ombudsman’s preliminary investigation violates his rights to due process and speedy case disposition.
But the court disagreed.
It said the complaint was filed before the Ombudsman’s office in 2012 and the complaint was filed at the Sandiganbayan in August last year.
“Undeniably, it took three (3) years and ten (10) months from the time of the filing of the complaint with the OMB up to the filing of the Informations in Court. It is worthy to emphasize, however, that in determining the right of an accused to a speedy disposition of his case, a mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved is clearly insufficient. Particular regard must be given to the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case,” the court said.
“Here, the Court assiduously studied the record of the preliminary investigation of the case and finds that the delay which attended the said proceeding could hardly be considered vexatious, capricious, and/or oppressive,” it said.
It noted that Genuino was initially accused of falsification but the Ombudsman’s office later held that he should be charged with perjury.
“Therefore, the delay of two years, five months and 23 days from the time of the filing of the complaint of the FIO (Field Investigation Office) with the OMB on October 23, 2012, until the time the latter issued its Resolution dated April 15, 2015, cannot be deemed to have violated the right of the accused-movant to a speedy disposition of the case. Said delay was necessitated by the exigency of the actions taken on the case and can be reasonably attributed to the ordinary processes of justice,” the court said.
“There is nothing in the record of these cases which suggests, even faintly, that the attendant delay was deliberately employed by the prosecution in order to hamper or prejudice the defense of the accused-movant or to gain some tactical advantage over him.”
Since Genuino is out on bail, there can be no occasion for “oppressive pre-trial incarcerations.”
The court set Genuino’s arraignment on April 25.
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who leads the court’s Third Division, penned the ruling which was concurred in by Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Bernelito Fernandez.