• Sandigan urged to junk Singson motion

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    The Office of the Ombudsman urged the Sandiganbayan to junk the motion of former governor Luis “Chavit” Singson of Ilocos Sur province for his wrong appreciation of inordinate delay.

    State prosecutors said that contrary to Singson’s claim that there was a 10-year delay in his case, the proceedings against him actually only took a year.

    Singson said in his earlier motion to quash that the complaint filed before the Ombudsman in December 2002 against him and several other Ilocos Sur officials violated his right to speedy disposition of case.

    Singson said that from 2002, it was only in December 2012 when the anti-graft agency actually directed Singson to file his counter-affidavits.

    A year after on July of this year, the Ombudsman finally resolved the case and recommended that graft cases be indicted against Singson and former governor Deogracias Savellano.

    Singson cited the Philippine Constitution in bolstering his claim that no accused should suffer the delay in his case and instead must be accorded speedy disposition.

    In their opposition, state prosecutors said that Singson was mistaken to actually identify the time between 2002 and 2012 as part of the investigation.

    “Prior to the conduct of the preliminary investigation of this case in 2012, accused Singson had no case to speak of—he was not made the subject of an investigation or any proceeding,” the pleading read.

    Prosecutor Ferdinand Labog said that the court could only consider the time from the preliminary investigation to the filing of the case as the only time frame to gauge if there was delay.

    “Thus, for purposes of asserting his right to speedy disposition of his case, accused cannot claim that there was already delay in his case since 2002,” the motion added.

    Prosecution raised that Singson “never bothered to write the Office of the Ombudsman” about the status of the case.

    Even in the case of delay, fiscals urged the Sandiganbayan to consider the “balancing test,” wherein four factors—length of delay, reason of delay, defendant’s assertion of his right and prejudice to the defendant—must be considered.

    Labog said that none of these four were violated and if there was any delay in the initiation of the preliminary investigation, it may only because of change of leadership within the Ombudsman that might have overlooked the case.

    “Although there was no structural reorganization in the instant case, the effect and consequences of it is also evident in the change in the key officials of the office,” the pleading added.

    The prosecution also pointed out that Singson “did not suffer anxiety of such degree that amounted to oppression.”

    “In sum, since all the factors are all against his favor, it follows that his right has not been violated. Thus, accused Singson cannot claim that he was denied of his constitutional right to speedy disposition of case,” state lawyers said. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

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