MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has dropped Bohol (3rd District) Rep. Arthur Yap as a co-accused in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam case of former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino.
In a nine-page resolution released Tuesday and written by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi, the anti-graft court’s Special Sixth Division granted Yap’s motion to dismiss the case due to the “violation of his constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases.”
Concurring with the decision were Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Geraldine Faith Econg.
Dissenting were Sandiganbayan Special Sixth Division Chairperson Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.
Yap, the then Acting Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary, had argued that it took the Office of the Ombudsman more than seven years to conduct its fact-finding and preliminary investigation into his alleged involvement in the misuse of Antonino’s PHP14.55-M worth of PDAF in 2007.
The anti-graft court said the prosecution failed to justify the inordinate delay in the investigations, saying that it “merely asserted the presumption of regularity”, since Yap did not assert his right.
The Sandiganbayan said it is still the duty of the prosecution to conclude its preliminary investigation of the case within a reasonable period with or without Yap’s assertion.
“The prosecution argues that the accused did not show any sign of asserting his right like filing a motion for an early resolution of his cases. However, even without the filing of such motion, it is the duty of the prosecution to conclude the preliminary investigation with reasonable dispatch,” the anti-graft court said in its resolution.
Likewise, the Sandiganbayan said the delay impaired Yap’s ability to defend himself and present evidence of his innocence on the charges filed against him.
“The inordinate delay in the disposition of cases against the accused caused anxiety, hostility, additional expenses, and restriction on his person and well-being,” the anti-graft court said. PNA-northboundasia.com