By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Aklan Gov. Florencio Tumbocon Miraflores and his wife, former Ibajay Mayor Ma. Lourdes Martin Miraflores, have been cleared by the Sandiganbayan Second Division of their breach of conduct charges involving the reportedly anomalous declarations made in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
They were slapped with four counts of Section 8 of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for failing to declare in their 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 SALN several personal properties.
These include their P6,160,000 investments in the Rural Bank of Ibajay Inc., one Isuzu Elf with plate number RDJ867, one Mazda pickup with plate number FCW954, one Nissan Safari wagon with plate number TTF447, and a Kawasaki motorcycle with plate number 062810.
The Miraflores couple filed a motion to quash and argued that their constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases has been violated.
Based on the records submitted to the Sandiganbayan, the preliminary investigation was conducted within a total period of three years, two months and 21 days.
The SALNs were made available for perusal for the prosecution as early as 2007 to 2010, but the complaint was filed only on April 8, 2015 — five to eight years from the submission of the SALNs.
“Such period spent in the gathering of evidence is unreasonable considering that the documents required to support their charges are readily available in the records of the appropriate government agencies and private entities,” the court ruled.
“Even if the period that the Office of the Ombudsman spent in the conduct of its fact-finding investigation were not included in the computation, the delay of more than three years just for the determination of probable cause constitutes inordinate delay,” it added.
For the court, the Miraflores couple’s charges are not complicated enough to warrant the delay. Because of the passage of time, the court said the Miraflores couple are placed at a “tactical disadvantage” and it caused them “anxiety, hostility, additional expenses, and restriction on their respective person and well-being.”
The 12-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi with the concurrence of Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Reynaldo Cruz and Lorifel Pahimna.