Ombudsman: Scrutiny justifies ‘inaction’ on Falcons’ graft case
MANILA — State prosecutors have appealed the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of the graft cases against former Surigao del Sur 2nd District Reps. Jesnar and Peter Paul Jed Falcon due to unreasonable delays on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman.
In a six-page motion for reconsideration, the Office of the Special Prosecutor said the apparent three-and-a-half-year “inaction” during the preliminary investigation was warranted by the need to scrutinize the records.
The Feb. 3 resolution had faulted the prosecution for taking a total of five years and eight months to bring the case to the court.
But, the OSP stressed that since the complaint was initiated on March 25, 2011, the Falcons were told to file their counter-affidavits on May 6, 2011, which they complied with on June 10, 2011.
There was an apparent lull in the proceedings afterwards before the Ombudsman approved the Falcons’ indictment on Nov. 19, 2014. The motion attributed this to the fact that “the time devoted to the study and review of the case is, almost always, not borne by the records.”
“Perhaps, the explanation that the many layers of review that the case had to undergo and the meticulous layers it had to entail—has lost its novelty and is no longer appealing, but then, when this is the only justification that the prosecutor can offer because they are the truth, it can only rely on this Honorable Court’s better and conscientious judgment,” the motion read.
The appeal also cited a 2004 Supreme Court ruling that stated that because of the Ombudsman’s nature as the anticorruption agency with a steady stream of complaints, “disposition of those cases would take some time.”
The motion also cited the fact that the case had to be reassigned to another prosecutor on Oct. 18, 2013. But, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Modesto Onia Jr. was able to recommend the Falcons’ indictment on May 30, 2014.
His resolution was approved by the Director of Investigation and Evaluation Bureau on June 25 and the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao on July 22 before finally being approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Nov. 19.
“Clearly, the time it took the Office of the Ombudsman to file the Informations can hardly hardly be considered an unreasonable and arbitrary delay,” the motion insisted.
The elder Falcon was indicted for violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly approving the procurement of 113 units of Suzuki Chariot Powercabs from RDAK Transport Equipment, Inc., without public bidding in 2003. Prosecutors accused him of causing undue injury to the government and giving
unwarranted benefits to a private party.
His son and successor, meanwhile, was accused of funneling P13.1 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations in 2005 to Kabus Foundation, Inc., where he was an incorporator and chairman of the board of trustees.
Prosecutors said he violated Section 3(h) of the graft law, which has prohibited officials from “directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity…” SFM
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