MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft case against a former director of the Metropolitan Tuguegarao Water District (MTWD) in 2011 due to inordinate delay in the disposition of the case.
The Sandiganbayan First Division, in its 10-page resolution dated Dec. 20, 2018, dismissed the graft case filed against former MTWD Board of Directors member Macaria Duldulao for violation of her right to a speedy disposition of her case.
“Wherefore, in light of all the foregoing, accused Macaria M. Duldulao's motion to quash information, dated September 4, 2018, is hereby granted, and the instant case ordered dismissed as to the said accused, for violation of her right to the speedy disposition of her case,” the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.
The anti-graft court lifted and set aside the hold departure order issued against Duldulao on March 8, 2017.
It also ordered the release of the PHP30,000.00 bail bond she posted for her temporary liberty.
In her motion, Duldulao asked for the dismissal of the case against her for violation of her constitutional right to the speedy disposition of her case, on account of the inordinate delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.
She argued that it took the Ombudsman six years to conduct the preliminary investigation and to file the case before the Sandiganbayan.
“Thus, the accused-movant prays that just as the Court dismissed the case as to her co-accused, the case as to her should likewise be dismissed,” Duldulao said in her motion.
“The Court is convinced that accused Duldulao did not fail to assert her right to the speedy disposition of her case the soonest. Thus, she should be treated similarly in the same way that the Court treated Corral, Lumauan and Tanguilan. Indeed, the Court accepts the accused-movant's explanation that while the preliminary investigation was being conducted, she was in the United States and that upon learning that an information had been filed against her, she immediately returned to the Philippines to face the charge against her,” the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.
“At the first instance the accused-movant filed this motion to quash before the Sandiganbayan. The Court will regard the said act of the accused-movant as a timely assertion of her right to the speedy disposition of her case,” it added.
The Ombudsman charged before the Sandiganbayan the then MTWD Chairman of the Board of Directors Romeo Corral, and Board of Directors Duldulao, Fausta Tanguilan and Acting General Manager Ninia Lumauan for violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” on Feb. 24, 2017 for allegedly conspiring with each other to grant a contract of lease to Ms. Lorita Corral for a period of five years, for which, a check in the amount PHP514,596.00 was issued to her on Dec. 22, 2010 to the prejudice of the government.
Court records showed that the MTWD board passed a resolution dated Sept. 2, 2009 approving the payment of monthly rental in the amount of PHP13,908 for the property of Ms. Corral at Buntun, Tuguegarao City, that was traversed by MTWD pipes and high-voltage wire to commence on December 2007.
On Aug. 31, 2011, a notice of disallowance was issued by the Commission on Audit and demanded that Ms. Corral return the amount paid to her.
The said amount was returned on Sept. 17, 2011 and the contract was rescinded on Oct. 5, 2011.
The graft case against Corral, Lumauan and Tanguilan were dismissed on July 6, 2017 for violation of their right to a speedy disposition of their case. (PNA)