Graft rap vs ex-Cavite governor dismissed over Ombudsman’s ‘inordinate delay’
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan Second Division dismissed for lack of probable cause the graft case against former Cavite governor Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi that got stalled at the Ombudsman for more than nine years.
In a resolution promulgated Feb. 2, the antigraft court cited inordinate delay as the Ombudsman failed to act on the resolution of the case for more than nine years, even though the court found reasonable ground that the offense has been committed.
“Suffice it to state that based on obtaining facts, there is reasonable ground to believe that an offense has been committed. Be that as it may, however, it behooves the Court to state that the other ground of inordinate delay … is an overriding consideration…” the court said in its resolution.
According to the case information, the first two graft cases were filed at the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon by complainant then Cavite Vice Governor Juan Victor “JV” Remulla on Aug. 7, 2005.
Maliksi, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, was accused of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for the allegedly irregular procurement of medicines worth P2.5 million in 2002.
Maliksi allegedly gave unwarranted advantage or preference to thesupplier, Allied Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Inc., which was awarded the government contract without public bidding and without proving that its medicines cost the cheapest.
Meanwhile, a third case was filed before the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon on Sept. 26, 2008 after the conduct of a fact-finding investigation in 2006 due to a feedback report of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Fund Allocation Department Manager Teresita Brazil regarding Maliksi’s questionable P10 million financial assistance to Cavite.
The complete records of the Remulla case were sent to the Ombudsman proper for approval on Jan. 9, 2007. The Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon then sent a memorandum Oct. 24, 2008 to the main Ombudsman to incorporate the third PCSO case with the first two Remulla cases. This same request was supposedly received by the main office June 4, 2009 and duly approved by resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
The Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon then sent the complete case records of the third case to the Ombudsman proper only on April 6, 2010 for incorporation with the Remulla cases.
The prosecution argued that the case was resolved by the Ombudsman for Luzon as early as 2007 and forwarded the same year to the Ombudsman proper for final approval.
“Unfortunately, final action on the Resolution was allegedly overtaken by disruptive incidents and political events like the 2010 hostage-taking in Quirino Grandstand and the impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez that led to her resignation in April 2011,” the court said of the prosecution’s defense.
The court said it dismissed the case on the ground of inordinate delay.
“The cited sequence of events does not convince the Court that there was no inordinate delay that occurred within nine years that the case was pending with the Ombudsman,” the resolution read.
The court also noted that the Ombudsman only released the joint resolution finding probable cause July 8, 2014, four years after the consolidation of the three cases. The resolution did not even include the third PCSO complaint, the court said
The antigraft court said an accused has a constitutional right to a speedy disposition of cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies, especially as the honor and dignity of the accused is at stake.
“The illustrative cases cited by the accused involved delay in the resolution of the corresponding complaints therein for a period of less than nine years, or for a shorter time than this case had remained pending with the Ombudsman,” the resolution said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.