MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 5th Division has dismissed the graft and malversation cases against Victoria Ajero, an accused in the fertilizer fund scam case, due to the Ombudsman's turtle-paced action on the case.
Ajero is among those investigated for involvement in the fertilizer fund scam plunder complaint against former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Task Force Abono of the Ombudsman started the probe in her involvement in the scam in 2006.
After over a decade of investigation, May 13, 2016, the Ombudsman filed two counts of graft and two counts of malversation charges against former Talisay Camarines Norte Mayor Rodolfo Gache and nine others, including Ajero.
Ajero, area manager and collector of Hexaphil Agriventures Inc., was allegedly part of the conspiracy in the unlawful procurement of liquid fertilizers in 2004.
The Talisay government allegedly awarded the contract to Hexaphil through direct contracting, without going through public bidding required by law. A total of P2.9 million was paid for 8,570 bottles of liquid fertilizers was paid to Hexaphil through two separate vouchers.
In a decision, the Sandiganbayan granted Ajero's plea to dismiss her cases after finding that her constitutional right for a speedy disposition of cases was violated.
The anti-graft court reiterated the Ombudsman is mandated to "promptly act on all complaints lodged before it."
"The inordinate delay strongly militates against the right of the accused to the basic sense of fair play and justice," the Sandiganbayan said.
"In the hierarchy of rights, the Bill of Rights takes precedence over the right of the State to prosecute and weighed against each other, the scales of justice should tilt in favor of the former."