The Sandiganbayan’s First Division has dismissed a graft case filed against former Mayor Ramie Rosit of Boston, Da-vao Oriental, ex-Vice Mayor Amie Monredondo and nine others, saying the right of the accused to a speedy trial had been violated.
Also charged were former Liga ng mga Barangay president Nilo Rosit and former Sangguniang Kabataan Municipal Federation (SKMF) president Sotelo Vincent Cabrera and the former Municipal Council members.
The case stemmed from an alleged procurement of heavy equipment without the required public bidding in 2004 that was filed seven years later.
Rosit filed a Motion to Dismiss in April, saying his right to speedy case disposition had been violated because of a seven-year delay from July 17, 2008 when the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao docketed the complaint, which signified the start of the formal investigation to November 13, 2015, when the case was filed before the Sandiganbayan.
“Prescinding from the foregoing, the court is convinced that the Office of the Ombudsman incurred unwarranted and inordinate delay in violation of the accused’ right to speedy disposition of their case. Indeed, it took the Office of the Ombudsman more than seven (7) years from the docketing of the complaint on July 17, 2008 to the filing of the Information in court on November 13, 2015,” the court said in a nine-page resolution.
The Commission on Audit (COA) came out with results of its investigation on December 3, 2009 and undertook on December 10, 2009 to provide a copy of the results to the Ombudsman.
Based on the ruling, the Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer’s complaint-affidavit was executed as early as April 14, 2010.
“It is the court’s view that the constitutional right to a speedy disposition of one’s case becomes operative at the moment the person becomes the subject of an investigation, whether or not he or she is aware of it. The risk of a protracted investigation may attach notwithstanding the respondent’s lack of knowledge about it. For example, the passage of time may limit one’s defense, e.g., the accused may have difficulty in securing documents and wit-nesses. Time may render documents irretrievable and the memory of a witness unreliable. The unaware may al-ready be exposed to this danger, but he or she cannot arrest it,” the court said in part.
Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz, who leads the court’s First Division, penned the ruling, which was concurred in by Associate Justices Reynaldo Cruz and Michael Frederick Musngi.