By Czarina Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the graft and malversation charges filed against former Maguindanao Governor Datu Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan in relation to the reportedly anomalous purchase of fertilizers back in 2009 since his motion for reconsideration was denied for lack of merit.
The anti-graft court’s Third Division already denied his motion to quash and motion to defer arraignment on May 21, 2019. He then filed a motion for reconsideration on May 28.
In his motion, he insisted that the Office of the Ombudsman failed to comply with the proper procedure. “Does it really take two years, one month and 29 days to evaluate the Commission on Audit (COA) complaint regarding farm products and its supporting documents?” he questioned.
Ampatuan stressed that the count for the inordinate delay should not exclude the period spent by the Ombudsman during the preliminary investigation, especially since the Ombudsman’s order to file a counter-affidavit was not properly served upon Ampatuan.
However, the Sandiganbayan ruled that Ampatuan failed to substantiate his assertion that the Office of the Ombudsman incurred an inordinate delay in resolving the preliminary investigation of his case.
He likewise failed to support his claim that he was prejudiced by the reported delay of the Ombudsman in the resolution of his case. “Plainly, the Court cannot order the dismissal of these cases based on the aforesaid bare assertions of accused Ampatuan,” the resolution stated.
At the same time, Ampatuan did not participate in the preliminary investigation of his case. According to the Sandiganbayan, that was not a valid ground to quash the Information against him.
The 10-page resolution was written by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.
Ampatuan has been slapped with a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and a violation of Article 217 and 171, paragraph 2, in relation to Article 28 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents.
On June 3, 2009, Ampatuan reportedly conspired with his co-accused and misappropriated P98,249,850 worth of public funds. The money was supposed to be used to purchase palay, corn, seeds, and fertilizers from Tamoni Enterprises. However, no such purchases were made.
Ampatuan is facing the charges alongside Provincial Agriculturist Mozibicak Guiabel, Provincial Accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr., bids and awards committee (BAC) members Kasan Macapendeg, Osmena Bandila, Engr. Norie K. Unas, Datu Ali Abpi Al Haj, and the late Engr. Landap Guinaid.