Sandiganbayan junks motion to dismiss raps vs. ex-Cebu guv

MANILA For lack of merit, the Sandiganbayan has denied the motion of former Cebu governor and now Representative Gwendolyn Garcia seeking to dismiss the criminal cases filed against her over the alleged irregular purchase of 10 parcels of land in Cebu province during her term as governor.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division, in a 12-page resolution dated Nov. 19, 2018, denied Garcia's motion seeking the dismissal of the graft and technical malversation cases filed against her, on the ground of alleged violation of her constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases.

In her motion, Garcia argued that in violation of her constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases, the criminal cases filed against her have been pending for seven years before the Sandiganbayan since she received the order from the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) on March 16, 2011.

She added that so far, the prosecution has presented only five witnesses out of its 78 intended witnesses.

Garcia claimed that the delay was caused by flip-flopping in the trial strategy of the prosecution as shown by its March 21, 2017 compliance, where it increased the prosecution witnesses from 43 to 78. Thus, for its lack of preparation, the anti-graft court had allegedly reprimanded the prosecution during the Nov. 15, 2017 hearing.

She added that the delay of two years in the investigation and delay of more than five years in trial, or a total of seven-year delay, caused her and her family irreparable and unquantifiable damage.

In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan noted that from the time the complaints were filed by the Ombudsman in 2010, it took the Ombudsman a little over two years to conclude its investigation and correspondingly file the cases in 2012.

Such length of time appears reasonable considering the number of respondents involved in the investigation, the documents gathered by the Ombudsman, and the issues for the latter's determination, the anti-graft court said.

The Sandiganbayan said that from the time the cases were filed before the Second Division on July 19, 2012, accused was arraigned only on March 22, 2013 and the pre-trial conference was held only on Feb. 2. 2016.

However, conspicuously absent from accused Garcia's account are the intervening motions which she filed before and after her arraignment, the anti-graft court said.

In sum, the present motion lacks merit as there is no vexatious, capricious and oppressive delay both in the Ombudsman investigation and trial of these cases, it added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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