Graft case stretches after appeal filed in wrong court

The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a suit filed by three former directors of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) questioning the Office of the Ombudsman that charged them in an anomalous 2004 purchase of PHP6.24 million worth of mobile phones in Iloilo province.

In a 17-page decision uploaded on the SC website on November 29, the high court affirmed the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that denied the petition filed by Ildefonso Patdu Jr., Rebecca Cacatian, and Geronimo Santos, members of the Bids and Awards Committee of the DOTC, forerunner of the Department of Transportation.

Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando said the three mistakenly filed their petition before the CA, instead of directly with the SC, as provided for under court rules.

“This has always been and is still the prevailing rule,” the SC said, adding that the CA has no jurisdiction over findings of probable cause in criminal cases by the Ombudsman.

He said they can now answer the charges pending before the Sandiganbayan.

The three are questioning their inclusion in the malversation and graft charges filed by the Ombudsman against Iloilo Representative (2nd District) Judy Syjuco, her husband and the late Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Augusto Syjuco Jr., and DOTC officials, then led by the late Leandro Mendoza.

Mendoza, who died in 2013, claimed presumption of regularity and said he merely acted after the BAC recommended the procurement.

Syjuco, also a former Iloilo congressman, died last year.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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