MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan dismissed the criminal charges filed against incumbent Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores and his wife, former Ibajay mayor Lourdes Miraflores, due to inordinate delay.
Inordinate delay means the case has taken too long to resolve, violating a person’s constitutional right to speedy disposition of his or her case. (READ: EXPLAINER: SC ruling on inordinate delay and why it matters)
The Miraflores couple was charged over alleged inaccuracies in Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth filed from 2006 to 2009. They allegedly failed to disclose ownership of several vehicles and cash investment in a rural bank, according to prosecutors.
But in a decision dated November 14, the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division pointed out that the preliminary investigation stage alone took 3 years and 3 months despite “readily available” evidence.
It noted that Section 3, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Court states that the Office of the Ombudsman should conduct preliminary investigation of criminal complaints “more or less” within 45 days.
“Applying the above-cited factors to these cases, it is evident that the constitutional right to the speedy disposition of cases of accused Florencio and Lourdes have been violated, hence the same should be dismissed,” the anti-graft court said.
This is not the first case dismissed by the Sandiganbayan due to inordinate delay. Hundreds of cases have been junked, including high-profile ones such as graft cases related to the fertilizer fund scam.
Back in August, the Supreme Court ruled that courts cannot include the fact-finding phase in assessing whether there has been inordinate delay. – Rappler.com