• Prosecutors appeal junking of raps vs ex-GSIS chief

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    PROSECUTORS at the Office of the Ombudsman asked the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division to reconsider its ruling dismissing the case against former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) President Winston Garcia over the delay it took for the Ombudsman to resolve the case.

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    Last year, the Ombudsman indicted Garcia and several others in connection with the allegedly anomalous award of the GSIS eCard project to a bank in 2004.

    In a 22-page Motion for Reconsideration filed on Wednesday, the prosecution said the dismissal of the case was unwarranted because there was no unreasonable delay in their Field Investigation Office’s [FIO] investigation that could have violated the constitutional right of the accused to a speedy disposition of case.

    It urged the Sandiganbayan to take a second look at the FIO’s findings.

    The prosecution argued that the fact-finding investigation of the case is separate and distinct from the preliminary investigation and should not be included in the computation of the supposed delay.

    Based on the prosecution’s motion, former Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Guillermo Carague forwarded the subject COA report to the Ombudsman on April 1, 2005.

    On April 18, the GSIS asked the Ombudsman in a letter to defer action on the COA report pending their petition to nullify the same.

    The following July, the GSIS filed a Petition for Prohibition with Prayer for Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction at the Court of Appeals (CA) that sought to restrain COA’s special audit team to issue a notice of disallowance.

    In September, the CA granted the GSIS’ plea for a writ of preliminary injunction and later denied COA’s motion for reconsideration in August 2006.

    The prosecution said that while the petition was pending before the CA and Supreme Court (SC), the complaint was the subject of an investigation by two committees at the House of Representatives.

    The SC resolved the petition in 2011 and in the same year, the FIO filed its complaint. In 2013, the SC reversed the CA’s ruling.

    “Thus, the delay was justified and cannot be considered vexatious, capricious, and oppressive,” the prosecution said.

    It argued that “accused waived their right to speedy disposition of cases when they failed to invoke their right during the preliminary investigation.”

    In its March ruling, the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division dismissed the case “for violation of the Constitutional precept on speedy disposition of cases and for want of probable cause.”

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