MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft case against former Senator Lito Lapid in connection with the fertilizer fund scam, citing the “inordinate delay” of the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation.
The graft case against Lapid stemmed from the allegedly irregular and overpriced purchase of P4.7 million worth of liquid fertilizer in 2004.
The Sandiganbayan said the Ombudsman failed to justify the delay in the preliminary investigation against Lapid.
The Ombudsman started its fact-finding investigation in 2006, filed the complaint in 2011, and only filed the case in 2015.
"From the foregoing timeline, it appears that four (4) years and six (6) months had lapsed from the time of the filing of the Complaint in 2011 until the time the information was filed in 2015. Three (3) years and one (1) month out of this said period was consumed in the Ombudsman's preliminary investigation," a portion of the Sandiganbayan resolution read.
The anti-graft court added that in case of delay, the State (should) prove that the delay was reasonable, or that the delay is not attributable to it.
The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to hurdle the burden since no plausible explanation was given to justify the delay.