Sandiganbayan junks criminal raps vs. accused in fertilizer scam

MANILA The Sandigabayan has junked the graft cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against one of the accused in the fertilizer scam in 2013 for the delay in the disposition of the charges against her.

In a seven-page resolution dated last Aug. 22, the Sandiganbayan 5th Division granted the motion to quash filed last July 9 by accused Lourdes V. Gonzales on the grounds of inordinate delay.

Upon perusal of the circumstances of this case, together with the consideration of the four elements of the right to speedy disposition of cases, we conclude that the Constitutional right of the accused-movant has been violated and, therefore, the charges against her must be dismissed, the resolution read.

With the dismissal, the anti-graft court also recalled the Hold Departure Order against Gonzales.

Gonzales was a co-accused of former Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Roque Ablan Jr. in the alleged PHP3-million fertilizer scam in 2013. She was then the Administrative Officer V of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which facilitated the release of the fertilizer fund in Ilocos Norte.

The malversation of public funds and graft cases stemmed from the PHP728-million fertilizer fund used in the alleged anomalous procurement of fertilizer under the DA's Farm Input Project, PHP3 million of which ended in the alleged anomalous procurement of 1,970 bottles of liquid fertilizers and 20 backpack fertilizer sprayers for the 1st District of Ilocos Norte in 2013.

In her motion, Gonzales argued that it took the Ombudsman almost five years and five months from the time � from Nov. 12, 2012 the complaint was filed by the Task Force Abono-Field Investigation Office against her at the Sandiganbayan on April 13 this year.

The Sandiganbayan ruled that the period of more than five years for the resolution of the case is clearly unjustifiable. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency