Citing inordinate delay, the Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft case filed against former Camarines Sur governor Luis Villafuerte Sr. in connection with the P5-million fertilizer fund scam.
In an 18-page resolution dated July 4, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division questioned the Ombudsman’s ability to resolve the case within the prescribed period.
The court said the Ombudsman took four years, two months and 26 days to resolve the graft complaint filed against Villafuerte, also.a former congressman, after the last counter-affidavits was submitted on Jan. 4, 2012.
“In this particular case, the sheer number of years alone, figuratively, speaks volume. It is ‘inordinate,’ which simply means, it exceeds reasonable limits,” the anti-graft court said.
On March 29, 2017, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Joyrich Golangco recommended that Villafuerte be ordered indicted. But the Ombudsman signed the resolution on May 16, 2017. The case was filed in court on April 27, 2018.
As far as the Sandiganbayan is concerned, the period within which the case should be heard was unacceptable as the alleged irregularities took place way back in 2004.
Villafuerte’s graft case involved the alleged purchase of 7,142 one-liter bottles of Hexaplus liquid fertilizer from Hexaphil without public bidding.
Aside from Villafuerte, the anti-graft court also dismissed the same case filed against then-provincial treasurer Mario Alicaway, assistant provincial agriculturist Jennifer Uy, and provincial accountant Leticia Aliorde.
Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos penned the resolution, and Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac concurred.