Sandigan nixes dismissal of criminal raps vs ex-DOF official

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    FOR sleeping on his right to question delays, a former official of the Department of Finance (DOF) has been barred by the Sandiganbayan from seeking the dismissal of 34 criminal charges filed against him more than 20 years earlier.

    In a resolution dated December 15, 2020, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division denied the motion for reconsideration filed by defendant Raul de Vera, former acting executive director of the DOF-One Stop-Shop Inter-Agency Tax Credit Duty Drawback Center (DOF-Center), challenging the validity of multiple counts of graft and estafa through falsification of public documents filed on March 5, 2000.

    Associate Justice Alex L. Quiroz penned the five-page resolution that denied De Vera’s appeal for lack of merit, noting he merely reiterated arguments previously raised in his motion to dismiss that was overruled by the anti-graft court in a July 28, 2020 ruling.

    The charges against the defendant stems from alleged unlawful processing and issuance of tax credit certificates (TCCs) worth millions of pesos by officials of the DOF-Center led by former Undersecretary Antonio Belicena.

    In his motion, De Vera argued that the Office of the Ombudsman and government prosecutors violated his right to a speedy disposition of cases against him because of the passage of 23 years since the investigation was launched in 1996.

    He claimed the lapse of more than two decades was unreasonable and prejudicial to his capability to defend himself against the allegations considering that the transactions took place many years ago.

    Likewise, he pointed out that several of his co-accused have been dropped as defendants from the case earlier on grounds of inordinate delay.

    The Sandiganbayan, however, said his appeal has no leg to stand on since the ground for citing inordinate delay has been abandoned on the strength of a 2018 ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Cagang v. Sandiganbayan.

    It pointed out that De Vera failed to offer proof that the delay prejudiced him or that he was persecuted, oppressed or forced to undergo a vexatious process during investigation.