Sandiganbayan finds no merit to reinvestigate graft case vs North Cotabato governor, other accused

Published August 8, 2019, 9:06 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Czarina Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has decided not to reinvestigate the graft case filed against North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco and former Lazi Mayor Orville Fua of Siquijor over the alleged irregular purchase of fertilizers back in 2005.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Catamco, who used to go by the name Nancy Perez of Perezbros Company, was charged with violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act together with Fua and seven others.

On January 7, 2005, Fua and several other local officials were accused of conspiring with the representatives of Perezbros when they purchased 1,866 liters of VITACROP Liquid Organic Fertilizers at P1,500 per bottle or a total of P2,687,040.

But the transaction was allegedly attended by several violations of R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

The accused prematurely issued the purchase request, made reference to brand names, and failed to secure a performance security bond.

There was also lack of proof of the project’s implementation.

Catamco filed an omnibus motion for reinvestigation on May 31, while Fua and the others filed an omnibus motion to dismiss the case on June 4.

Catamco stated in her motion that she was not accorded her right to preliminary investigation since she received no notice requiring her to submit a counter-affidavit before the Office of the Ombudsman.

If she had only been accorded her right to preliminary investigation, Catamco said the Ombudsman would not have found probable cause against her given her lack of participation in the subject transaction.

On the other hand, Fua and his co-accused said in their motion to dismiss that there was an “unexplained delay” in the filing of the charge sheet against them.

The complaint was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on June 29, 2016, but the charge sheet reached the Sandiganbayan on May 17, 2019.

Fua and the others claimed that the inordinate delay in their case has caused them and their families much prejudice, since they have to contend with expenses and anxieties.

But the anti-graft court found both their motions lacking in merit. The resolution stated that Catamco’s motion is prohibited since it was filed without the court’s permission.

As for the motion to dismiss, the court said the period of two years, seven months and 24 days taken by the Ombudsman to complete its investigation and file the necessary charge is not undue nor inordinate.

“The court considers the whole period of preliminary investigation as reasonable and not constitutive of inordinate delay,” the resolution read.

The eight-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz with the concurrence of Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.