Ex-CDO solon’s plea to dismiss graft raps junked

MANILA The Sandiganbayan has denied the plea of former Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraula, which sought to dismiss the graft and malversation cases filed against him over the alleged PHP728-million fertilizer fund scam, due to alleged delay in court proceedings.

The Sandiganbayan's 2nd Division, in a resolution dated Nov. 5, 2018, junked Jaraula's consolidated motion to dismiss the cases, which was filed on Aug. 24, 2018.

In its ruling, the anti-graft court said while the right to a speedy disposition of cases is enshrined in the Constitution, it noted that the delay is "necessary and unavoidable" and is solely attributable to the Ombudsman, considering the number of respondents given the opportunity to file their counter-affidavits, the number of papers and the affidavits filed and the extensions sought.

The rule that evidence must be presented to establish the existence of the elements of a crime to the point of moral certainty is only for purposes of conviction. It finds no application in the determination of whether or not an information is sufficient to warrant the trial of an accused, the Sandiganbayan added.

In his consolidated motion, Jaraula argued that his constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases had been violated as it took the Office of the Ombudsman more than three years to conduct and terminate the preliminary investigation.

He added that the graft and malversation cases he allegedly committed were from Dec. 23, 2003 to July 2004 but the complaint was filed by the Ombudsman's Field Investigation Office only on Aug. 4, 2014 or more than 10 years later.

Court records showed that Jaraula was charged with the criminal raps for allegedly giving unwarranted benefit to the Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI), by receiving the fertilizers without proof and disbursing the amount of PHP3 million despite failure to comply with the requirements of the Commission on Audit.

Jaraula's co-accused in the criminal raps are Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Technical Director Jose Quitazol Jr.; chairman of the Committee on Accreditation Antonio Rosal; Regional Executive Director Eduardo Lecciones Jr.; budget officer Ma. Reina Legazpi Lumantas; accountant Claudia Beros Artazo; Assistant Regional Director Martino Narnjo Cajita; Regional Technical Director Joel Semana Rudinas; and City Agriculturist Godofredo Bajas, all of DA.

Meanwhile, named as private respondents are Evelyn de Leon, Annabelle Luy, Maria Fe Escabarte, Jose Ardias, Gertrudes Kilapkilap, Henry Bucalin and Luzviminda Bulacalin, all of PSDFI. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency