MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denied the plea of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari to dismiss the corruption charges against him, and set his arraignment for next year.
The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division denied Misuari’s motions to dismiss and defer arraignment in a resolution dated November 29.
Misuari’s arraignment is set for next year, according to the 3rd Division, although the date has not been finalized yet.
Misuari is facing two counts each of graft and malversation over P115 million worth of educational materials supposedly purchased, which turned out to be non-existent. This happened in 2000 and 2001 when Misuari was governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Misuari enjoys freedom although he had been charged for the non-bailable case of rebellion over his alleged involvement in the 2013 Zamboanga siege. President Rodrigo Duterte granted him temporary liberty so he could participate in the peace process.
Misuari has paid P460,000 in bail for the corruption charges.
He relied on the inordinate delay doctrine, saying that his right to a speedy trial was violated. He said the 4 years it took the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate him and file the charges was “vexatious, capricious, and oppressive.”
The doctrine has worked many times in favor of public officials charged with corruption, but was rejected by the Sandiganbayan in Misuari’s case.
The court said the Ombudsman took only 118 days to finish the preliminary investigation, which is the phase that should be counted when assessing delay, according to a recent Supreme Court decision.
“To the mind of the Court, the period of 118 days that it took the prosecution to resolve its preliminary investigation as regards the accused-movant is reasonable. It was not occasioned by any capricious, vexatious, or oppressive delays,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“As pointed out by the prosecution, the accused never raised an objection to the extensions it requested, which were all with leave of court,” it added.
Duterte and Misuari last met on August 22 to discuss the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which the President had just signed then. – Rappler.com