Sandigan junks graft raps vs Chavit Singson
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan Third Division on Wednesday dismissed the three counts of graft charges against former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson that had been sleeping in the Ombudsman for at least 10 years.
In a resolution, the division said Singson was deprived of his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of his case when the Ombudsman issued an order directing Singson and other respondents to submit their counter-affidavits on December 10, 2012, when the complainant Estelita Cordero had filed the suit on December 5, 2002.
The court said the Ombudsman took an “unusually long” time studying the complaint, and it would be unfair for Singson to prepare his defense nine years after the complaint was filed.
“The period of nine years is an unusually long period of time for the Office of the Ombudsman to study the complaint and commence with the preliminary investigation, even under the circumstances described by the prosecution,” the resolution read.
“It is not fair to subject herein accused to prolonged uncertainty with regard to his case. … (T)o expect Singson to prepare his defense, gather evidence and talk to his witnesses for more than 10 years thereafter would not only be inconvenient but also repugnant of what is entailed in… the Constitution (about the speedy disposition of cases),” it added.
The court then granted Singson’s motion to quash the information, and also dismissed the case.
According to the complaint, Singson, who was governor of Ilocos Sur from 1998 to 2001, entered into four memorandums of agreement with Multi-Line Food Processing International Inc. (MFPII) on Feb. 5 (P9.18 million), Feb. 20 (P4 million), May 28 (P3 million) and in June (P8 million), all in 2001.
The releases amounting to P24.18 million were allegedly intended to bankroll the private company’s unspecified livelihood projects.
Former Ilocos Sur vice governor Deogracias Victor Savellano, Singson’s successor who served up to 2003, likewise forged a similar agreement with Multi-Line Food in December 2001, giving the company a grant of P1,880,500 in financial assistance.
Savellano, who is also the husband of actress Dina Bonnevie, was Singson’s accused in the graft case, but the court later acquitted him due to “unreasonable delay.”
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