FORMER Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson of Ilocos Sur is raising before the Sandiganbayan the 10-year delay of his graft cases, a lengthy duration which he said is enough for the charges to be dismissed.
In a nine-page motion to quash, Singson outlined the timeline of his three-count graft charge before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.
He stands charged for the alleged disbursement of P24.18 million of cash to Multi-Line Food Processing International, Inc. when he was still the governor of Ilocos Sur.
According to the Office of the Ombudsman, Singson entered into four memoranda of agreement with Multi-Line between February and June 2001 for the release of financial assistance amounting to P9.18 million, P4 million, P3 million, and P8 million.
Singson said in his pleading that the complaint was filed before the Ombudsman in December 2002 against him and several others Ilocos Sur officials.
However, it was only in December 2012 when the anti-graft agency actually directed Singson to file their 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.
He added that he could not be faulted for the apparent footdragging of the Ombudsman because “herein accused does not have the duty to bring himself to trial or to follow up on the prosecution of the case against him.”
He pointed out that when he filed his counter-affidavit, the documents that he used for his defense were difficult to obtain since 10 years passed until the Ombudsman ordered him to answer the charges.
According to Singson, he still had to seek a certification from the Provincial Development Council since they could not locate anymore the documents related to the case.
The certification reads that the transaction of the province with Multi-Line “went through the application and selection procedure of the [council]for accreditation.”
He added that the certification showed that no undue benefit was granted to Multi-Line.
However, the Ombudsman, instead of realizing that it had a hand in the ten-year delay, simply said that “if the said document [certification]is authentic, it could have been produced early on,” Singson said.
“Accused should not be made to suffer the consequences of the Ombudsman’s inefficiency. The very long delay in terminating the preliminary investigation was unreasonable. Accused cannot be faulted for inordinate delay,” he added.
Apart from quashing the charge sheets, Singson added that his arraignment on October 30 be cancelled and moved to a later date, pending resolution of the motion. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON