Syjuco files petition for certiorari

Published March 24, 2018, 4:59 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Czarina Nicole Ong

Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. has filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court regarding his graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.

Augusto Syjuco Jr. (Michael Varcas / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Augusto Syjuco Jr. (Michael Varcas / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Syjuco was earlier slapped with two violations of Section 3(e)of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as a single violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code for endorsing Tagipusuon to implement his social, economic and health services program in the second district of Iloilo.

He was accused together with Department of Agriculture regional executive director Eduardo Lecciones Jr., Tagipusuon Foundation Inc. managing director Mylene Villanueva, and Ilonggo Chickboy Corporation president Antonio Roxas by assistant special prosecutor III Lalaine Benitez.

In the charge sheets filed against them, Syjuco and Lecciones were faulted for conspiring with Villanueva and Rojas on March 25, 2000. Lecciones represented the DA and entered into a memorandum of agreement with Tagipusuon in exchange of public funds worth P4,300,000. He got into this arrangement even if the said NGO has not complied with the Commission on Audit’s requirements.

Syjuco then used the said public funds to finance the Chickboy Corporation, therefore causing undue injury to the government.

The Fifth Division has decided to proceed to trial regarding Syjuco’s case as it denied his motion to dismiss twice — first on September 13, 2017 and next on December 15.

Syjuco said this was “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction” on the part of the Fifth Division, since he cited the Office of the Ombudsman’s violation of his right to speedy disposition of case.

He faulted the Fifth Division for coming up “with all sorts of “justifications” not to dismiss his charges and even reasoned that the delay incurred is not really vexatious, capricious and oppressive.

“The facts are what they are. Eleven years is eleven years,” Syjuco wrote in his petition. “No matter how the Sandiganbayan tried to justify the nondismissal of the cases, the stubborn fact is that by any standard, eleven years of fact-finding and preliminary investigations amount to inordinate delay.”

He added that he was undoubtedly prejudiced by inordinate delay, since he faced “oppression” due to the charges. What’s worse, the time the crime was allegedly committed was way back in January 2000 — “18 long years ago!”

“On balance, the scales should tilt in favor of petitioner Syjuco, who did not cause the delay in the resolution of his cases. He respectfully submits that he should not be penalized for the slow action of the Ombudsman,” his petition further read.

He hopes that the SC would issue a temporary restraining order in his case “to prevent serious damage,” and he even expressed willingness to file a bond, in whatever amount the SC would choose, to answer for any damages that might be incurred by the Sandiganbayan.

Syjuco prays for the reversal of the two Sandiganbayan resolutions that denied his motion to dismiss and motion for reconsideration.

His other graft charge was already dismissed by the Sandiganbayan First Division due to the violation of his right to speedy disposition of case. He was accused of violating Section 3(e) of Repubic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he gave unwarranted benefits to the Tawo Kag Duta sa Kauswagan Cooperative on May 12, 2004.

The First Division sided with Syjuco and dismissed his charge since it took the Office of the Ombudsman more than 11 years just to complete the preliminary investigation and file the Information against him.