MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division has dismissed graft and malversation charges against former Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers due to inordinate delay.
In a decision promulgated on Nov. 9, the court granted Barbers' omnibus motion to quash the information filed against him.
Barbers and seven other individuals were accused of graft and malversation for the procurement of two batches of allegedly overpriced fertilizers worth P4.99 million without public bidding.
Barbers claimed in his omnibus motion that there was an “unexplained hiatus” of five years from the time Task Force Abono conducted its fact-finding investigation, from the issuance of a memorandum by the Commission on Audit on May 2, 2006 until the filing of the complaint on May 2, 2011 before the Office of the Ombudsman.
He added that there was another unexplained delay of five years and three months from the execution of the complaint on Aug. 16, 2010 until the issuance of the resolution by the Office of the Ombudsman on Nov. 16, 2015 indicting him for the crimes charged.
The prosecution, however, said that the fact-finding inquiry is “separate and distinct” from a preliminary investigation and that the right to speedy trial is only violated when there are “vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays” in the proceedings.
“The Court finds that the total period of 10 years and 9 months in the conduct of fact-finding investigation and preliminary investigation is unjustified. Ultimately, the prosecution failed to satisfactorily explain the cause of the delays,” the court said in its decision.
With the dismissal of the charges against Barbers, the court also ordered the lifting of the hold departure order against him as well as the release of his cash bond.