Sandiganbayan

Sandiganbayan junks cases vs Pampanga town mayor, 5 others due to long delay

Rappler.com
Sandiganbayan junks cases vs Pampanga town mayor, 5 others due to long delay

Mayor Tumang from Mexico, Pampanga FB; Sandiganbayan by Darren Langit/Rappler

The alleged procurement irregularities were committed 14 to 15 years ago, but the Ombudsman filed charges only in 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft dismissed 29 cases against Mayor Teddy Tumang of Mexico, Pampanga, and his five co-accused, citing the Ombudsman’s unreasonable delay in filing appropriate charges against them. 

The Ombudsman alleged that Tumang, and the following municipal officials were involved in irregularities in the procurement of construction materials in 2007 and 2008: 

  • Perlita Lagman, municipal accountant 
  • Marlon Maniacup, planning and development coordinator
  • Lucila Agento, budget officer
  • Jesus Punzalan, engineer
  • Luz Bondoc, private secretary to the mayor

However, the Ombudsman filed cases of graft and malversation of public funds against them only in March and July 2022.

Specifically, in the first 20 cases, there was a gap of three years and 11 months between the time the Ombudsman filed the formal complaint and the time it filed a case in court. It took four years and three months before it filed the last nine cases. 

This prompted Tumang to ask the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division to quash the cases.  

The anti-graft court agreed. “The passage of time in the conduct of the preliminary investigation has already adversely affected the defense of the accused. Hence the prejudice and pernicious effect of the inordinate delay that attended the investigation into this case against the accused-movants becomes manifest,” it said. 

The only explanation offered by the prosecution for the delay was the COVID-19 pandemic that limited the operations of various government offices and courts.

The Sandiganbayan didn’t buy the explanation. It said, “The Court is not persuaded that the operations within the [Ombudsman] were at a standstill during the entire length of the period between March 2020 until October 2021.” – Rappler.com

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