Antigraft court throws out 12-yr-old case vs Singson | Inquirer News
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Antigraft court throws out 12-yr-old case vs Singson

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 08:50 AM November 16, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its decision throwing out the graft case brought against former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson which had been gathering dust for over a decade in the Office of the Ombudsman before the latter decided to recommend his indictment in 2013.

In junking the Ombudsman’s motion for reconsideration, the Sandiganbayan antigraft court’s Third Division reiterated that the failure of government prosecutors to act on the complaint against Singson more than 10 years after it was filed on Dec. 5, 2002, was “prejudicial to the interests of the accused.”

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Former Ilocos Sur Governors Luis “Chavit” Singson  INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Former Ilocos Sur Governors Luis “Chavit” Singson INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Citing the constitutional right of all individuals to a “speedy disposition of their cases,” the court said that it found “no reason to disturb” its Aug. 20 resolution dismissing the three counts of graft against Singson.

(The court) still cannot adhere to the prosecution’s explanation (of the delay)… Not only has he been subjected to prolonged anxiety, but also must face the rigors brought about by a trial,” the court said in its Nov. 14 ruling.

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Not accurately prepared

Since it was only on July 3, 2013, that the Ombudsman recommended the filing of three counts of graft against Singson, the court said “it cannot be reasonably expected that for more than 10 years thereafter, Singson would be able to accurately prepare his defense, gather evidence and talk to his witnesses.”

This is exactly the situation which the Constitution seeks to avoid,” said the resolution penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz.

Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, chair of the Third Division, and Associate Justice Samuel Martires concurred Quiroz’s decision.

The case against Singson was filed by Estelita Cordero, chair of the Save Ilocos Sur Alliance Foundation, who accused the then governor of unlawfully giving P24.18 million to Multi-Line Food Processing International Inc. in 2001.

The funds came from the province’s share of tobacco excise taxes, as stipulated by Republic Act No. 7171, also known as the Act to Promote the Development of the Farmers in the Virginia Tobacco Producing Provinces.

In asking the court to junk the case against him, Singson said the failure of the Ombudsman to act swiftly on the complaint against him was “a blatant violation of (his) constitutional right to a speedy disposition of his cases.”

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TAGS: Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, Associate Justice Samuel Martires, Office of the Ombudsman, Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, Sandiganbayan, Singson
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