By Czarina Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division saw no reason why it should quash the graft charges filed against Tuao Mayor Francisco Mamba Jr. of Cagayan in relation to the 2004 fertilizer fund scam.
Mamba Jr. is facing two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, together with his brother and former Mayor William Mamba and several other local officials.
This was in relation to the reportedly anomalous procurement of 3,333 bottles of Bio-Nature Liquid Organic Fertilizer at P1,500 per bottle, or the total amount of P4,999,500 from Feshan on April 5, 2004.
They also made the same purchase on July 2, 2004 with the same amount.
On August 5, the anti-graft court issued a resolution denying Mamba’s motion to quash. In it, Mamba tried to argue that the Commission on Audit (COA) came out with the report denouncing the irregularities back in May 2011, while the Office of the Ombudsman Field Investigators came out with their own accusations against Mamba Jr. seven years after.
Mamba also questioned why it took so long for the Office of the Ombudsman to act on the COA report.
In his motion for reconsideration, Mamba stressed that there was an inordinate delay in violation of his right to speedy disposition of cases, so there is a need to dismiss the charges against him.
He maintained that the issue at hand is not complex, and the evidence is not voluminous enough to warrant the delay of eight years from the filing of the complaint to the filing of the Information.
However, the anti-graft court denied his motion for lack of merit. “Amidst the supposed delay, the accused did not file before the Office of the Ombudsman any motion or letter during the preliminary investigation,” the court said.
At the same time, the court did not buy into his argument that the case is not complex enough to warrant an institutional delay.
“These cases are but one of the many cases involved in the P728 million fertilizer scam concerning an alleged scheme of such magnitude and intricacies compromising a significant number of personalities nationwide such that the right of the State to prosecute shall not be conveniently brushed aside under the circumstances,” the resolution stated.
The 10-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Mañalac with the concurrence of Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.