Ombudsman loses case due to 15-year delay

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2010 05:58 PM | Updated as of Oct 21 2010 02:01 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has dismissed 6 graft charges against 15 Philippine Air Force officers after the Office of the Ombudsman took 15 years to finish the preliminary investigation on the case.

In its ruling, the anti-graft court said it was left with no recourse but to dismiss 6 graft charges against Lt. Gen. (retired) Leopoldo Acot; retired Brig. Gen. Ildefonso Dulinayan; Lt. Cols. Santiago Ramirez, Fernando Potoza and Cesar Cariño; Maj. Gen. Glenn Orquila; Majors Paquito Cuenca and Proceso Sabado; Capts. Herminigildo Llave, and Jose Gadin; 1st Lts. Marcelino Morales and Danilo Pangilinan; and Sgts.  Atulfo Tampolino, Antonio Serquina and Ramon Bayona.

Also indicted were government auditor Rogelio Reyes and business agents Gloria Bayona and Remedios Diaz who represented the supplier-contractors.
 
They were accused of conspiracy to commit fraud after certifying "ghost deliveries" of procured  construction materials and supplies worth P89 million for the 5th Fighter Wing, PAF in Basa Airbase, Pampanga.

The Court said the Ombudsman violated the constitutional rights of the defendants to due process and to speedy disposition of their case because the preliminary investigation took 15 years to finish.
 
It noted that the complaint against the military officials was filed on December 28, 1994 until the issuance of a resolution dated April 12, 1996.
 
But the case was only filed with the Sandiganbayan on October 6, 2009.
 
“The length of 7 years of review is obviously vexatious and oppressive. Likewise, the length of 15 years to hold the Preliminary Investigation is too long a time to conduct it, considering the circumstances of the case,” the Sandiganbayan said.

The court said the Ombudsman failed to justify the inordinate delay in the preliminary investigation of the cases. u
 
Ombudsman prosecutors had argued that the defendants cannot invoke delay because they failed to assert their rights to speedy resolution of the complaint during its pendency. They said the Ombudsman had to "meticulously and scrupulously" review details and evidence submitted in the complaint.