By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Second Division refuses to let Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) executive director Mary Mitzi Cajayon off the hook from her criminal charges as it junked her motion to dismiss ex-abundati ad cautelam.
Cajayon has been slapped with two graft and one count each of malversation and malversation through falsification charges due to her reported involvement in the P10-million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam back when she was still a lawmaker for Caloocan City.
In her motion to dismiss, Cajayon prayed for the dismissal of these charges on the ground of inordinate delay in the conduct and termination of the preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman.
She said the complaint against her was filed on February 2, 2015, and yet the charge sheets reached the Sandiganbayan only in 2018.
Unfortunately for Cajayon, the Sandiganbayan saw nothing wrong with the timeline of three years and six months.
"The Court finds it satisfactory and acceptable the length of time spent by the Office of the Ombudsman in conducting and terminating the preliminary investigation of these cases," the resolution read.
More importantly, the Sandiganbayan noted that Cajayon and her co-accused were given ample time to submit their counter-affidavits and also to file their motions for reconsideration after the release of the July 12, 2017 resolution finding probable cause against them.
"These demonstrated that they were accorded due process and given the opportunity to submit evidence during the preliminary investigation," the resolution added.
It was penned by Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. with the concurrence of Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Kevin Narce Vivero.
Cajayon was accused of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, and malversation through falsification alongside former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Undersecretary Mateo Montaño, Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera, chief accountant Leonila Hayahay and assistant director Pacita Sarino.
Private individual Cenon Mayor, president of the Kaloocan Assistance Council Inc. (KACI), was likewise charged.
They were faulted for acting with manifest partiality when they paid Mayor's nongovernment organization P3 million, which is 30 percent of the total project cost of P10 million on May 21, 2009. On June 30, 2009, the remaining P7 million was paid.
Cajayon reportedly used her priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and chose KACI as a project partner in the implementation of her Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) programs and projects in the second district of Caloocan City.
This was done despite the absence of public bidding, which is required under R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and the fact that KACI is unaccredited and unqualified to take on the projects.