Sandigan junks former mayor’s motion to dismiss ‘pork’ misuse raps

MANILA: The Sandiganbayan has denied the motion to dismiss filed by a former Camarines Norte mayor charged with irregularities in the implementation of programs funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) more than a decade ago.

The anti-graft court’s Seventh Division denied for lack of merit the motion to dismiss and suspend proceedings filed by Senandro Jalgalado, former mayor of Capalonga, according to a resolution shared online this week.

Jalgalado is charged with malversation, graft and falsification in connection with irregularities in PHP14.5 million worth of projects funded by the 2011 PDAF, also known as pork barrel, of former First District congressman Renato Unico Jr.

Jalgalado claimed violation of his constitutional right to speedy disposition of his cases, as well as his right to speedy trial, as it took more than two years for the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation and another two years to file the corresponding information before the court.

The prosecution, for i
ts part, noted that lockdowns imposed by the government to contain the Covid-19 in 2020 and the closure of offices and courts rendered it impossible to access files and records.

The Sandiganbayan agreed that the lockdowns hindered official functions which, undeniably, caused delays in all pending investigations and cases lodged before the Ombudsman.

‘Accordingly, while there was indeed delay on the part of the prosecution, the delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation and in the filing of the Informations was justified by the unforeseen circumstances, i.e., the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, which fall within the purview of force majeure,’ the anti-graft court said.

“Summing up, the Court finds that there is no capricious, vexatious, or inordinate delay in the instant cases. The prosecution of said cases is not solely motivated by malice, much more that there is no evidence to this effect,” the ruling read.

Source: Philippines News agency