Gov’t auditor’s bid to dismiss criminal case junked

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    THE Sandiganbayan has junked a petition for review filed by a government auditor seeking the dismissal of a case for alleged violation of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees filed against her before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC).

    Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahimna, Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Michael Frederick L. Musngi ruled to dismiss the petition of Janet D. Nacion, a state auditor of the Commission on Audit accused by the Office of the Ombudsman of accepting illegal benefits from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) when she was assigned to audit to agency.

    According to the criminal information filed on June 13, 2018, Nacion allegedly accepted “cash gift, and/or incentives” in the form of a multi-purpose loan amounting to P934,017.02 from the MWSS and its Employees Welfare Fund.

    On August 1, 2018, Nacion filed a motion to dismiss, invoking her right to speedy disposition of the case and claiming the Ombudsman’s investigation was attended by inordinate delay.

    The MeTC denied the motion, declaring that the Nacion was deemed to have waived her right to invoke the speedy disposition of her case because she failed to raise it during preliminary investigation.

    It also noted the recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Cagang vs. Sandiganbayan that said the fact-finding phase of the investigation is excluded from counting the period of alleged delay.

    The defendant elevated the case to the QC Regional Trial Court but the RTC ruling dated April 25, 2019 upheld the validity of the MeTC ruling while highlighting the numerous charges against MWSS officials and employees.

    Nacion’s appeal to the RTC was likewise denied last July 2, 2019.

    In denying the defendant’s petition, the Sandiganbayan noted Nacion and her lawyer did not follow the required procedure for an appeal under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.

    The Sandiganbayan said that appeal under Rule 41 is a matter of right but an appeal under Rule 42 is a matter of discretion of the court.