Sandiganbayan denies motion to dismiss ex-Caloocan mayor’s cases
The Sandiganbayan’s Special Second Division and Sixth Division have denied the motion to dismiss nine criminal cases filed against former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri.
In three decisions, all dated October 1 and released on Tuesday, the anti-graft court dismissed the request of Echiverri and his co-accused, City Accountant Edna Centeno and former Budget Officer Jesusa Garcia, for lack of merit.
Echiverri’s camp claims that their rights to due process and to a speedy disposition of the case have been violated because it took the Ombudsman two years to file their information with the court.
Sandiganbayan, however, said that the accused waived their right to a speedy disposition of the cases because they failed to raise the issue during the procedural periods.
“The right to speedy disposition of cases or the right to speedy trial must be timely raised. The respondent or the accused must file the appropriate motion upon the lapse of the statutory or procedural periods. Otherwise, they are deemed to have waived their right to speedy disposition of cases,” Sandiganbayan said.
“The accused claim that there was undue delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation because the period within which it was conducted was considerably longer than the period prescribed under the applicable Rules. However, it does not appear that herein accused asserted their right to speedy disposition of cases in the proceedings before the Office of the Ombudsman,” it added.
Echiverri tried to cite previous cases, where it was ruled that a delay of three years constitutes to a violation of the prescribed time for cases to be resolved.
“The period of almost three (3) years it took to conduct and terminate the preliminary investigation, and to file the Informations, is considerably longer than the prescribed period for resolving a case,” Echiverri’s motion read.
“In Tatad vs Sandiganbayan, it was held that a delay of almost three (3) years constitutes a violation of the provisions prescribing the time within which cases must be resolved,” they added.
But according to the Second Division, there is no valid reason to reconsider the motion because it was merely a rehash of those already junked by the Court.
Echiverri and his two co-accused are facing complaints for alleged falsification of public document and for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, misusing public funds in different projects in Caloocan.
His stint as mayor spanned from 2004 to 2013, completing three terms before running as the city’s first district representative.
Sandiganbayan also noted that the accused did not suffer from prejudice due to the delays brought by the sheer number of cases, as it would take time to each complaint.
“As the accused admit, the complaints involving the transactions entered into by the City of Caloocan during accused Echiverri’s term as Mayor alone are over a hundred in number. Each complaint, filed by a different complainant, on a different date, is treated as a separate case, and necessitates a separate investigation,” the Court said.
“The resolution of the cases related to the transactions of the City of Caloocan alone will take some time, considering the number of transactions involved,” they added. /ee
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