MANILA — The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division on Wednesday denied former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista's appeal to dismiss a graft case against him over a 2019 government project.
In its decision, the anti-graft court said that contrary to Bautista's argument, the Ombudsman's office did not delay the preliminary investigation on him and its subsequent filing of the graft case.
The court noted that even with lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ombudsman managed to resolve the case within a reasonable period of time.
“Consequently, the case against him should not be dismissed upon a finding that there was no violation of his right to speedy disposition of cases,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice and Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tan and Associate Justice Ronald Moreno.
The graft case, which identified Bautista and his former city administrator Aldrin Cuña as respondents, stemmed from solar power system and waterproofing projects for a civic center building in Quezon City worth P25.3 million.
Sandiganbayan also noted that the information filed against Bautista was sufficient to establish a violation of the anti-graft law.
The court also did not consider the issues raised by Bautista, citing the sufficiency of evidence from the prosecution.
“These focused on factual allegations that would require the presentation of evidence best fitted for a full-blown trial,” the court said.
It further said that Ombudsman Samuel Martires signed the written authority approving the information against Bautista, contrary to the former Quezon City mayor's claims.
The case was filed by the Ombudsman earlier this year together with another graft case which went to the 7th Division.
Bautista and Cuña were already arraigned before the said division and had pleaded not guilty.