Cases vs ex-DOF tax specialist dismissed

Published May 14, 2022, 1:05 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Sandiganbayan

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft and falsification charges filed against former Supervising Tax Specialist Asuncion M. Magdaet of the Department of Finance (DOF) in the P2.4 million tax credits granted to a textile firm in 1996.

In dismissing Magdaet’s cases, the anti-graft court enforced the 2020 Supreme Court (SC) decision which found that her constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases was violated.

Magdaet had asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss her cases. When her plea was denied, she filed an appeal before the SC which ruled:

“Here, the criminal complaint against Magdaet was filed on April 24, 2002. On Sept. 20, 2002, Magdaet submitted her Counter-Affidavit. Then, on May 12, 2003, the Ombudsman… issued a Resolution finding probable cause against Magdaet. This Resolution was accompanied by two draft Informations (criminal charge sheets) … and signed on March 2,2007. On March 2, 2012, Ombudsman Morales (Conchita Carpio Moraleas) approved the 2003 Resolution and the two Informations against Magdaet were filed on May 22, 2013.

“Strikingly, it took eight years, nine months, and 19 days to conclude the preliminary investigation and for the Ombudsman to approve the resolution, and another one year, two months, and 20 days just to file the Information before the Sandiganbayan.

“Evidently, the said time span is beyond the reasonable period of 90 days to determine probable cause. Left unsatisfactorily explained, too, is the noticeable gap between May 12, 2003 (the date when probable cause was found to indict Magdaet) and March 2, 2007 (the day when the Information that accompanied the Resolution was supposedly reviewed).

“Contrary to the ruling of the Sandiganbayan, respondent (Ombudsman) did not offer any plausible explanation for the excessive delay in resolving Magdaet’s case.

“The period of 2002 to 2013 to resolve a case is clearly an inordinate delay, blatantly intolerable, and grossly prejudicial to the constitutional right of speedy disposition of cases.

“Thus, Magdaet was clearly prejudiced because of the excessive delay in the disposition of her case by the Ombudsman, and thus warranting the dismissal of the criminal case against her.

“Such unjustified delay in the disposition of cases renders the rights of the people guaranteed by the Constitution and by various legislations inutile.

“WHEREFORE, the present Petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated April 1, 2016 and Dec. 14, 2016 of the Sandiganbayan in SB-13-CRM-0603 to 04 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The criminal case filed against Asuncion M. Magdaet is hereby DISMISSED for violation of her Constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases. SO ORDERED.”

Magdaet, together with other former finance officials, was charged with graft and falsification of documents in the grant of P2.4 million tax credits to Nikko Textile Mills, Inc.

Prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman alleged that the tax credits on the raw materials of the textile firm were falsely represented, and, thus, caused undue injury to the government.

The Sandiganbayan resolution which dismissed Magdaet’s cases was written by Second Division Chairperson Oscar C. Herrera Jr. with the concurrence of Associate Justices Michael Frederick L. Musngi and Arthur O. Malabaguio.

 
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