Sandiganbayan denies Cebu Rep. Garcia’s Motion to Dismiss

Published November 21, 2018, 8:06 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Second Division has denied the motion to dismiss filed by Cebu 3rd District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia seeking to drop criminal charges against her in relation to the reportedly anomalous purchase of a 24.92 hectares beachfront property in Tiga-an, Naga, Cebu worth P98.9 million in 2008.

(MANILA BULLETIN)
(MANILA BULLETIN)

Garcia was charged with two counts of graft and one count of malversation because of this purchase. She filed a motion to dismiss and claimed that her right to speedy disposition of cases has been violated.

She said that the delay is caused by the “flip-flopping” in the trial strategy of the prosecution. The prosecution initially wanted to present 43 witnesses, but then changed its mind and wanted to present 78. However, only five were presented so far.

Given the speed in which the witnesses were presented, Garcia contended that it would take 30 years for the prosecution to rest its case. By then, she said that she would have no more witnesses to present.

Garcia also stated that the Ombudsman refused to furnish her with a copy of the complaints against her, so she was unable to file her counter-affidavit.

However, the Sandiganbayan saw no delay on the part of the prosecution. The Ombudsman received the complaint against Garcia in 2010, and it only took a little over two years to conclude its investigation and file the charge sheets against her in 2012.

“Such length of time appears reasonable considering the number of respondents involved in the investigation, the documents gathered by the Ombudsman, and the issues for the latter’s determination,” the court ruled.

As for Garcia’s complaint regarding the presentation of witnesses, the Sandiganbayan said that this is mere speculation, which is not enough for them to dismiss her cases.

“Anent availability of her witnesses, the rules provide her other remedies, but not to dismiss these cases. In the same vein, as to the number of prosecution witnesses, the same is another matter in which the accused may properly challenge but definitely cannot be a basis for the present motion,” the court said.

All in all, the anti-graft court saw no vexatious, capricious or oppressive delay in the Ombudsman’s investigation and the trial of the cases, so Garcia’s motion was denied for lack of merit.

The 12-page resolution was signed by Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr., Associate Justices Lorifel Pahimna and Efren De La Cruz. Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Geraldine Faith Econg provided dissenting opinions.

 
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