By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Second Division has affirmed its decision not to quash the charges filed against former Cagayan De Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula in relation to the reported misuse of P3 million worth of fertilizer funds.
Jarula filed an urgent motion for reconsideration and manifestation, with ad cautelam motion, after the anti-graft court junked his motion to quash last year.
He stressed that the court made a mistake in reckoning the length of delay in his case from the filing of the complaint by Task Force Abono of the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman on August 4, 2014.
What the court should have counted, according to him, was the time the fact-finding investigation started.
He highlighted the Supreme Court’s ruling in People vs. Sandiganbayan, where it said that “the fact-finding investigation should not be deemed separate from the preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman.”
Jaraula also asked for permission to participate in the reinvestigation of his cases, and for the proceedings against him be suspended until the reinvestigation is concluded.
However, the anti-graft court said no to his motions.
For the Sandiganbayan, the period of delay is reckoned not from the conduct of the fact-finding investigation or at any time prior, but from the commencement of the preliminary investigation.
For this, the Sandiganbayan highlighted the SC ruling in Cagang vs. Sandiganbayan. “While justice is administered with dispatch, the essential ingredient is orderly, expeditious and not mere speed. It cannot be definitely said how long is too long in a system where justice is supposed to be swift, but deliberate. It is consistent with delays and depends upon circumstances,” the ruling read.
As for the reinvestigation, the court said Jaraula’s understanding regarding it was “misplaced,” since he was never deprived of the opportunity to ventilate his defense and answer the charges against him.
“In sum, the allegations of herein movant are matters of defense not proper in a motion, more so, be based upon a condition. His defenses are evidentiary in nature and is best passed upon and ventilated after a full-blown trial on the merits,” the court ruled.
The four-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna with the concurrence of Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.
Jaraula has been slapped with violations of Section 3(e) and (g) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, also known as malversation.
From December 2003 to July 2004, Jaraula and his co-accused were faulted for giving manifest partiality to PSDFI when they signed its endorsement and entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with it even though its documents were incomplete.
The accused reportedly received the fertilizers without any proof of receipt by the farmer beneficiaries and disbursed the P3 million despite the NGO’s failure to comply with the requirements of the Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 96-003.
At the same time, PSDFI’s sources of its funds are from donations and minimal membership fees based on its Financial Statements from year 2000 to 2004, contrary to the requirement that fund assistance shall not be its sole source of funds.
PSDFI also failed to submit a list of projects it had previously undertaken to show its experience and expertise in implementing the project to be funded.