The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division stood pat on its ruling that threw out the graft case filed last year against former Mayor Federico Carolino Sr. of Capoocan, Leyte and several other individuals in connection with the alleged anomalous procurement of two dump trucks in 2008.
Earlier, the court granted the motion to quash filed by Carolino as well as then-bids and awards committee members Pio Antonio Borrel, Macario Noel Gullemas, Letecia Merelos, and Jesalie Loteyro who said that their right to due process of law and speedy case disposition were violated because there was an inordinate delay in the filing of the case.
This prompted the prosecution to file a motion for reconsideration, which the court denied in a four-page resolution promulgated on April 4.
“After an assiduous perusal of the records and a second hard look on the issues raised by the prosecution, this Court is not swayed to reconsider,” the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said.
The case stemmed from a letter-complaint filed by a certain Emeterio Tañala on September 26, 2011 before the Office of the Ombudsman in Visayas.
According to the prosecution, this was still part of the fact-finding stage and should be excluded in determining whether or not there was inordinate delay.
But the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division found this argument “unavailing.”
“Whether or not the fact-finding investigation was separate from the preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman should not matter for purposes of determining if the respondents’ right to the speedy disposition of their cases had been violated,” it quoted a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.
The anti-graft court added that “[w]ith regard to the other averments raised by the prosecution, the same have been discussed thoroughly in Our Resolution dated January 19, 2017. Perforce, the Court finds no cogent reason to discuss them again.”
It said that it is “not unmindful” of the Office of the Ombudsman’s constitutionally-granted investigative powers but that the 1987 Constitution nevertheless mandates the Ombudsman and his Deputies’ prompt action on complaints filed.
The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division thus denied the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration, “finding no new valid and compelling reasons to reconsider and set aside” its earlier ruling.
Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega penned the April resolution that was concurred in by Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, who leads the court’s Fifth Division, and Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz.