MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has junked the requests of former Department of Agriculture secretary and five other others to dismiss and have the graft raps against them voided over the alleged anomalous Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice) car loan in 2009.
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division, in a 32-page resolution dated Dec. 5, 2018, denied for lack of merit the motion to quash the cases, dated Feb. 14, 2018, of former DA Secretary and PhilRice Board of Trustees chairman Arthur Yap and the motion to quash/motion to dismiss the cases dated Feb. 14, 2018 of Board members Jonnifer Batara, Fe Laysa, Senen Bacani and Rodolfo Undan.
The anti-graft court also denied the motion to quash the cases dated Feb. 12, 2018 of Board executive director Ronillo Beronio.
“The Court cannot decide on the sufficiency of the evidence of the prosecution at this point. Hence, the motions to quash are denied,” the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.
After a thorough review of the case records, the Sandiganbayan said “the Court resolves to deny for lack of merit the motions to quash and motion to dismiss the cases for violation of the right of the accused to a speedy disposition of the case.”
“The protection under the right to a speedy disposition of case should not operate to deprive the government of its inherent prerogative in prosecuting criminal cases or in generally seeing to it that all who approach the bar of justice be afforded a fair opportunity to present their side,” it added.
Yap anchored his motion on the prosecution’s failure to charge an offense and for violation of his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the case, arguing that his absence in the 54th meeting of the PhilRice Board of Trustees wherein the car plans and hold out agreements (HOAs) were approved, destroys the prima facie truth of the allegations against him.
He added that it took the Office of the Ombudsman more than six years to terminate the preliminary investigation of the cases.
Batara, Laysa, Bacani and Undan argued that they had no participation in the formulation and implementation of the PhilRice car plan and HOAs.
They added that the Ombudsman took eight years and seven months, more or less, to finish its fact-finding investigation and preliminary investigation of the cases.
Beronio argued that it took the Ombudsman more than nine years to finish its fact-finding investigation and preliminary investigation of the cases.
He added that he had been prejudiced not only by the anxiety, but mostly by the long delay in the preliminary investigation of the cases. (PNA)
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