By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has denied the motion to dismiss filed by former Governor Datu Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan hoping to quash his 36 criminal charges involving the purchase of food supplies back in 2009.
Ampatuan was slapped last May with one count in violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), one count in violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code (malversation of public funds), and 34 counts in violation of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (falsification).
He filed a motion to dismiss on August 3, arguing that the delay of eight years in the resolution of the instant cases is prejudicial to his right to speedy disposition of cases.
For its part, the prosecution said the perceived delay of eight years is misleading and incorrect, since Ampatuan included in his computation the time the Commission on Audit (COA) took to investigate his case. And the court had to agree.
“It is quite evident, from the outset, that accused-movant factored into the computation of the alleged eight-year inordinate delay, the time spent by the COA in the audit of the questioned transactions,” the resolution read. “There is no showing that this COA special audit was done with any prompting or directive from the Ombudsman.”
The court said it took the Ombudsman only a little over two years and five months to finish the preliminary investigation against Ampatuan, since the resolution finding probable cause was approved on August 8, 2016.
“That period, to the mind of this Court, is not inordinate as there are voluminous documents involved, thus no violation of the accused-movant’s right to a speedy disposition of his case exists,” the resolution further read.
Because of this, the court decided to dismiss Ampatuan’s motion for lack of merit.
Ampatuan’s charges involves the anomalous purchase of of various food supplies worth P16,317,559 from Henry Merchandising from February 2 to September 30, 2009. Ampatuan and his co-accused made it appear that the purchase was made even though the company is really non-existent.
Ampatuan is one of the suspects in the terrifying 2009 Maguindanao massacre, which claimed the lives of at least 58 people, including 32 journalists. He was imprisoned for five years before posting bail of P11.6 million back in 2015 for 58 counts of murder. After, he tried to run for office as mayor of Shariff Aguak in 2016. However, he lost the elections.
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