By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan is acceding to the wisdom of the Supreme Court (SC) with regard to the reversal of its decision dismissing the graft charges against Senator Lito Lapid.
“The SC is the final arbiter of all justiciable issues. In the hierarchy of courts, the SC is at the apex; hence, all lower courts like the Sandiganbayan must pay obeisance to the SC ruling,” Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said in a message.
It was in September 2016 when the anti-graft court’s First Division dismissed the graft charges against Lapid due to inordinate delay.
Lapid was accused of violating Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for purchasing overpriced liquid fertilizers worth P4.761 million in 2004.
Lapid asked the anti-graft court to dismiss his charges because of the “inordinate delay” in the filing of the case. He added there was no probable cause to indict him for graft because he did not violate the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9184 when they purchased the fertilizers.
The Sandiganbayan, for its part, ruled in favor of Lapid. “Without a reasonable explanation, the delay in [Lapid’s] proceedings is unwarranted considering the adverse effects or prejudice that such long delay may cause upon the defense of the accused,” the resolution read.
Lapid was still governor of Pampanga when the fertilizers were purchased sometime in May 2014. The prosecution said the purchase was made without the conduct of public bidding, and the items were overpriced at around P4.268 million.