MANILA- The Office of the Ombudsman suffered another blow as the Sandiganbayan dismissed the graft case of former Solicitor General and Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera due to inordinate delay.
In the May 16 decision of the Sandiganbayan 1st Division led by Justice Efren Dela Cruz, the case of Devanadera, who was charged by the Ombudsman for her role as a lawyer of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel in a supposedly anomalous deal, was dismissed for violation of her "constitutional right to a speedy disposition of her case."
In the information filed by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan last year, Devanadera allegedly advised the Philippine National Construction Corporation to enter into an amicable settlement with Radstock Securities Ltd. which was contrary to law.
The Sandiganbayan noted that it took the Ombudsman 6 years to file the case against Devanadera.
Devanadera argued in her motion to quash that the complaint by Luis Sison against her was filed at the Office of the Ombudsman on October 12, 2010 but the information was filed by the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan on November 25, 2016.
Devanadera also argued that the case involving the PNCC officials were earlier dismissed by the Sandiganbayan, also on the ground of inordinate delay.
The prosecution however argued that Devanedra can no longer seek the protection of the law to benefit from the adverse effects of her failure to raise the issue at first instance.
But the Sandiganbayan noted precedents from the Supreme Court such as Coscoluela vs Sandiganbayan and Almeda vs The Office of the Ombudsman, as well as the Constitution, which gave importance to the rights of the accused to a speedy trial.
"The right to a speedy disposition of person's case is guaranteed by no less than the 1987 Constitution, Sec 16 Art 3," the court said.
Also this month, the Sandiganbayan 5th Division dismissed the graft case of former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes on the ground of inordinate delay.
For its part, the Office of the Ombudsman has already asked the Supreme Court for a clarification and guidelines on the use of inordinate delay doctrine in the dismissal of cases at the Sandiganbayan.