By Czarina Nicole O. Ong
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has denied the motion of Samar 2nd District Representative Milagrosa Tan to drop the 13 criminal charges she faces, citing the prosecution’s inordinate delay in handling the cases.
Tan was charged with eight graft and five malversation charges over the purchase of P69 million worth of medicines when she was Samar governor.
According to court records, from March 28 to April 16, 2007, Tan purchased medicines worth P30,702,190.18 and P4,654,980.54 from Zybermed, even though the company had no license to do business in Catbalogan City, Samar and Pasig City, where it is located.
On August 21 of the same year, Tan made another purchase from the same company worth P33,683,344.12. The Commission on Audit (COA) deemed the transaction “unnecessary and non-responsive to the exigencies of the service,” since there was no justification to buy large quantities of drugs, medicines and dental supplies.
In her motion to dismiss, Tan said her constitutional right was violated because the Office of the Ombudsman took more than 10 years to finish fact-finding investigations before filing the case in court.
She said the delay made it difficult for her to gather evidence and witnesses who can vouch for her innocence.
In a resolution penned by Associate Justices Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, Bayani Jacinto and Zaldy Trespeses, the court noted that the case was filed on July 15, 2015, and the information was filed before the Sandiganbayan on November 24, 2017.
The two years and four months the Ombudsman took to prepare the case cannot be considered as a delay, the court said.
Tan’s arraignment was scheduled for April 27.