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Inordinate delay: Sandiganbayan throws out 31 charges vs Mexico Mayor Tumang, trader

FOR taking more than six years to finish its preliminary investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman has lost its opportunity to prosecutor former Mexico, Pampanga mayor Teddy Tumang and his co-accused, businessman William Colis of Buyu Trading and Construction.

In a 12-page resolution promulgated June 10, 2024, the Sandiganbayan First Division ordered 29 counts of graft and two counts of malversation of public funds against the two defendants dismissed on the ground of inordinate delay.

“The preliminary investigation lasted six years, four months, and 12 days, counted from the time of the filing of the Complaint to the filing of the information with the Court. In sum, the Court finds that there was inordinate delay in the preliminary investigation before the (Ombudsman) and that the same was in violation of the accused’s right to speedy disposition of their case,” the court declared.

Graft investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman alleged the procurement process and the award of contracts to Buyu Trading was attended by irregularities since the supplier was already named as payee on the checks even before the conduct of the canvass, award of the contract, and before the delivery of base coarse and other materials.

But because of the unjustified length of time it took to complete the investigation, the court ordered the cases thrown out.

It noted the absence of any discussion from the prosecution about the context or circumstances surrounding the cases, the volume of evidence considered, and the complexity of the issues involved.

It found the explanation that the delay was attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic unconvincing.

“While the court may take judicial notice of the pandemic leading to the declaration of a national emergency …It is inaccurate to say that the entire machinery of the government was forced to a complete standstill for more than three years,” the Sandiganbayan said.