By Czarina Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has affirmed its decision, denying the urgent manifestation and motion to suspend trial filed by former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Commissioner Michael Robles.
Robles, together with former BI Deputy Commissioner Al Argosino and Asian Gaming Service Providers Association, Inc. (AGSPA) President Wenceslao Sombero Jr., had been charged due to the reported extortion of P50 million from 1,316 arrested Chinese nationals who were violating Philippine immigration laws back in 2016.
The three of them are facing a violation of R.A. 7080 or the act defining and penalizing plunder, as well as violations of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code or Bribery, and P.D. 46, which prohibits the giving gifts to public employees.
The anti-graft court already denied his motion on April 15, so he filed a motion for reconsideration and argued that he can no longer file a motion to quash on the ground of double jeopardy once the court renders its judgment on his three consolidated cases.
The relief of a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC), likewise, will no longer have any effect once the Sandiganbayan renders its judgment, according to him.
He also believed that the Sandiganbayan would be wasting its time and resources if the SC subsequently annulled its proceedings.
Unfortunately for Robles, the Sandiganbayan saw no merit in his motion.
Robles elevated the case to the SC with a petition for certiorari and application for temporary restraining order (TRO) on March 8, 2019.
But until now, the SC still has not issued any TRO. The Sandiganbayan further explained that “merely setting the case for trial would not have the effect of rendering the pending petition for certiorari moot.”
“Inasmuch as accused Robles has failed to show how proceeding to trial will render the matters he raised in the SC moot, there is nothing in his motion that would warrant the reversal or modification of the assailed resolution,” the court ruled.
The five-page resolution was penned by Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Zaldy Trespeses.