Sandigan junks Villafuerte’s P5-M fertilizer scam case
The Sandiganbayan has thrown out the P5-million fertilizer fund scam case against former Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Villafuerte Sr. due to the unreasonable delays in the Ombudsman’s investigation.
In an 18-page resolution dated July 4, the court’s Fifth Division said the Ombudsman took four years, two months and 26 days to resolve the graft complaint following the submission of the last counter-affidavits on Jan. 4, 2012.
From the time graft investigation and prosecution officer II Joyrich Golangco recommended on March 29, 2017 that Villafuerte be ordered indicted, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales took an extra 49 days to sign the resolution on May 16, 2017. The case reached the court on Apr. 27, 2018.
The alleged irregularities took place way back in 2004.
Beyond reasonable limits
“[T]he sheer number of years alone, figuratively, speaks volumes. It is ‘inordinate,’ which simply means, it exceeds reasonable limits,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos and concurred in by Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac.
Cleared alongside Villafuerte were former provincial treasurer Mario Alicaway, assistant provincial agriculturist Jennifer Uy and provincial accountant Leticia Aliorde.
The graft case involved the alleged purchase of 7,142 one-liter bottles of Hexaplus Liquid Fertilizer from Hexaphil without the benefit of public bidding. —VINCE F. NONATO
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