Sandiganbayan denies motion to dismiss graft charges vs Sajid Ampatuan
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has denied a motion filed by former Maguindanao governor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan to dismiss the graft and malversation cases filed against him.
In its resolution dated May 21, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division also denied Ampatuan’s bid to defer his arraignment in the cases that stemmed from the alleged non-existent purchases of fertilizers worth P98.24 million from Tamoni Enterprises in 2009.
Ampatuan’s camp claimed that the accused’s right to speedy disposition of cases was violated because it took the Office of the Ombudsman more than three years to resolve the case against him.
However, Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who penned the resolution, insisted that there was no delay in the preliminary investigation of the cases. She cited a recent case where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sandiganbayan in an issue of inordinate delay.
“The Supreme Court teaches that the concept of speedy disposition is relative or flexible. A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not sufficient,” the anti-graft court said.
“After meticulously evaluating the surrounding circumstances of this case vis-a-vis the teachings of the Supreme Court pertaining to inordinate delay, the Court rules that the amount of time spent by the OMB (Ombudsman) in conducting its preliminary investigation of this case cannot be considered vexatious, capricious, and/or oppressive,” they added.
Sandiganbayan also suggested that the delay was not a deliberate attempt by the Office of the Ombudsman; rather, it may have been brought by a change in leadership.
The resolution was originally approved by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales but were signed by incumbent Ombudsman Samuel Martires. Sandiganbayan explained that they needed more time to review the records of the cases.
With this development, Ampatuan can now be arraigned for allegedly violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Article 217 and 171 in relation to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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