Abalos, 82, asks Sandiganbayan to junk P1.71-million graft case
MANILA — Former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos, noting that he has reached his “twilight years,” has asked the Sandiganbayan to throw out his latest graft case due to the inordinate delays on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman.
The case involves the June 2003 purchase of two Toyota Revo VX 200 cars worth P1.71 million, which prosecutors said were bought from the Toyota Pasong Tamo without going through public bidding.
The 82-year-old Abalos, in a 15-page motion to quash filed before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division, questioned why it supposedly took “over eight years” for the agency to conduct its preliminary investigation and bring the case to the court.
He noted that the Field Investigation Office’s complaint was filed in October 2008, but, to his “shock and dismay,” he was only sent a “2nd Order” in September 2014, directing him to file his counter-affidavit.
“He does not even remember, to the best of his ability, having received a 1st Order,” the motion noted.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved his indictment in August 2015, and denied his motion for reconsideration last March. Yet, the case information was only filed with the anti-graft court on October 7.
“Clearly, the Ombudsman violated Abalos’ right to the speedy disposition of the instant case when it took OVER EIGHT YEARS to file the instant case before this Honorable Court,” the motion read.
“There were no special circumstances to justify the Ombudsman’s delay in conducting its preliminary investigation. The delay of over eight years could also not be attributed to Abalos,” the motion added.
With his right to the speedy disposition of his case “violated,” Abalos argued that the Office of the Ombudsman has been stripped of its authority under Section 3(d), Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Due to the Ombudsman’s supposed violation of due process, the case would fall outside the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction under Section 3(b), Rule 117 of the criminal rules, he argued.
Abalos also said the lapse of time has rendered him unable to “recall with clarity the events that allegedly happened in 2003, and makes it extremely difficult for him to assemble his witnesses.”
He told the court that in his advanced age of 82, he should “no longer be subjected to the strain, anxiety, and distress of trial.”
“He should be allowed to lead a relatively tranquil life in his twilight years,” the motion read. “But the peace of mind that he longs for is now being unfairly denied him by Ombudsman, who through its own fault, took an unreasonably long eight years to conclude the preliminary investigation of his case.”
Abalos was charged with violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for skipping public bidding in the procurement of the cars.
The Comelec had opted to pursue shopping or canvassing–seeking price quotations from suppliers in the case of contingencies– but prosecutors said the purchase of vehicles through this method was not warranted by the Government Procurement Reform Act. SFM
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