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CEBU PROPERTY

Sandiganbayan rejects Garcia’s bid to dismiss graft raps

/ 05:16 AM November 21, 2018

Voting 3-2, the Sandiganbayan rejected the bid of Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia to dismiss the graft and technical malversation charges against her, as it thumbed down her argument of unreasonable delays in both the Ombudsman’s investigation and the court’s trial.

In a 12-page resolution dated Nov. 19, the Sandiganbayan’s Special Second Division denied the motion to dismiss filed by Garcia in March.

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The cases arose from the Cebu provincial government’s controversial purchase of the 24.92-hectare Balili property worth P98.93 million at Barangay Tinaan in Naga City when Garcia was governor in 2008.

Authorities later discovered that 19.67 ha, or 79 percent of the property, was underwater and part of a mangrove area.

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‘Appears reasonable’

Garcia’s motions to dismiss five years into the trial and to complain about the length of the Sandiganbayan trial are nearly unheard of.

Such motions usually concern the Ombudsman’s investigations and are filed before the arraignment.

The court said the Ombudsman took “a little over two years” to conclude its investigation and bring the cases to court on July 19, 2012.

This “appears reasonable” because of the number of persons involved in the cases and the volume of documents gathered, the court said.

It noted that the pretrial conference was only held on Feb. 2, 2016, almost three years after Garcia’s arraignment on March 22, 2013.

But the court said the lawmaker failed to mention that her multiple pleadings helped prolong the proceedings.

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It said any delay in the proceedings “may be reasonably attributed to the ordinary process of justice” because there was “no unreasonable lull in the movement of the cases.”

The court said that by filing several motions and appeals throughout the proceedings, Garcia should have “reasonable expectation” that the proceedings would be prolonged.

“The present motion lacks merit as there is no vexatious, capricious and oppressive delay both in the Ombudsman investigation and trial of these cases,” said the resolution.

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TAGS: graft case, Gwendolyn Garcia, Sandiganbayan
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