By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Third Division has denied the motion filed by Nur Misuari, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), to junk cases against him consisting of two graft and two malversation through falsification charges.
Misuari was charged in connection with the reportedly anomalous purchase of different educational packages and materials from 2000 to 2001.
But since the irregular transactions he was being accused of took place during the term of his successor, Misuari said in his omnibus motion to dismiss and defer arraignment that he cannot be held liable for it.
Misuari stressed that he did not receive any money or funds involved in the transaction. Further, there was no proof that conspiracy existed between him and his co-accused because he was in detention for more than six years since January 7, 2002 until his release in 2008 when he was finally granted bail.
Misuari also harped on undue delay in the preliminary investigation and the filing of cases before the Sandiganbayan. For the preliminary investigation, he said that it took the Ombudsman 118 days to wrap it up, which is far more than the requisite 60 days given by the Sandiganbayan.
He also claimed that it took a total of four years and four months to resolve and file the cases before the Sandiganbayan from the time the complaint against him was first brought to the Ombudsman on November 6, 2013.
Unfortunately for Misuari, the anti-graft court found his arguments bereft of merit. His claim of non-liability is "evidentiary in nature," the Sandiganbayan ruled, and "best threshed out in a full-blown trial on the merits."
As for his contention that his right to speedy trial was violated, the Sandiganbayan likewise deemed it a failure.
"In the present case, the only appreciable length of delay with regard to the accused-movant is not four years and four months as he alleges, but only 118 days, or the time the prosecution resolved the preliminary investigation," the resolution read.
For the court, this period taken by the Ombudsman to conduct its preliminary investigation is reasonable. "It was not occasioned by any capricious, vexatious or oppressive delays. As pointed out by the prosecution, the accused never raised an objection to the extensions it requested, which were all with leave of court," the resolution added.
The seven-page resolution was penned by Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Sarah Jane Fernandez.