THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of the graft charges against former Cavite governor Erineo Maliksi in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of medical supplies in November 2002.
In a ruling penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, the SC’s Second Division denied a petition filed by former governor Juanito Victor Remulla as it upheld in full the February 2, 2015 and March 20, 2015 resolutions of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Remulla sought to annul and set aside the resolutions of the Sandiganbayan Second Division, which dismissed the case he filed against Maliksi for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
On August 12, 2005, he filed a criminal complaint against Maliksi before the Office of the Ombudsman, alleging that then-Cavite governor Maliksi allowed the purchase of certain medical supplies from Allied Medical Laboratories Corporation without conducting any public bidding, thereby giving unwarranted benefit or preference to the company.
The court, however, found that Maliksi’s right to a speedy disposition of his case was violated and, thus, it dismissed the case. It said the explanation provided by the Ombudsman, through the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), was insufficient to justify the nine-year delay in the resolution of Maliksi’s case.
The Sandiganbyan noted that the interval was caused by the delay in the routing or transmission of the records of the case, which the court said was unacceptable.
This prompted Remulla to seek redress before the High Court.
In its April 17, 2017 decision that was released only recently, the SC held that the anti-graft court was right when it handed down its verdict in Maliksi’s favor.
“The present case challenges the dismissal of a criminal case due to the violation of the right to speedy disposition of cases. The petition filed before this court was initiated by Remulla in his capacity as a private complainant without the intervention of either the OSG [Office of the Solicitor General] or the OSP,” it said.
The court pointed out that the Ombudsman “failed to justify the delay in the proceedings.”
“Had the Ombudsman immediately approved or disapproved the proposed resolution and decision submitted to its office on January 9, 2007, then the case would have been promptly acted upon. If filed before the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution and the defense could have timely presented their case,” it said.
The SC added that the nine-year delay in the disposition of the case caused Malixi “prejudice, living under a cloud of anxiety, and even, hostility.”