Augusto Syjuco Jr., who also previously served as director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority is facing multiple criminal charges before the other divisions of the Sandiganbayan. File photo

Sandigan junks P5-M graft raps vs Syjuco
Elizabeth Marcelo ( - March 22, 2018 - 3:51pm

MANILA, Philippines  At least one of the multiple criminal cases that former Iloilo Second District Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr. is facing before the Sandiganbayan was dismissed due to the “inordinate delay” in the Office of the Ombudsman's investigation.

In its 12-page resolution dated March 16, the anti-graft court's First Division granted Syjuco's motion to dismiss his case of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The court said the ombudsman violated Syjuco's constitutional right to speedy disposition of his case when it took the agency almost 12 years to resolve the complaint against him and his several co-accused.

Aside from Syjuco, also cleared of the case were former Alimodian vice mayor Ramon Anino and former municipal councilors Emmanuel Adricula, Aquiles Cabaluna Jr., Miguel Ambong, Geefre Alonsabe, Job Almacen and Roy Almonares.

Filed by the ombudsman in November last year, the case stemmed from the alleged anomalous utilization of P5-million fund from the Department of Agriculture for the implementation of the agency's Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program in 2004.

Based on the information of the case, Syjuco “conspired” with the officials of the Alimodian municipal government in entering into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with an unqualified non-government organization Tawo Kag Duta sa Kauswagan Cooperative.

The MOA was for the implementation of P5-million GMA program which included the purchase of fertilizer and other farm implements.

The ombudsman said Syjuco and his co-accused deviated from the original agreement with the DA, executed in April 2004, in which Alimodian municipality was designated as the implementer of the GMA program.

Furthermore, the ombudsman said Tawo Kag Duta sa Kauswagan Cooperative was not an accredited NGO to implement the project.

In dismissing the case, the First Division said the prosecution failed to provide any plausible justification why it took the ombudsman 11 years and nine months to finish its investigation on the complaint filed by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada before the Ombudsman-Visayas in February 2006.

“Clearly, the complaint of Mejorada against the accused-movants was under the OMB's consideration and disposal since 2006 until the filing of the instant [case] information on November 7, 2017,” the First Division's ruling read.

“The Court found no plausible explanation why the OMB needed these number of years just to determine the presence of probable cause to indict the accused-movants,” it added.

The First Division maintained that it is the duty of the ombudsman to expedite the resolution of any complaints before it regardless if the accused failed to object to the delay during the investigation.

“The Supreme Court has clarified...that the utter failure of the prosecution to explain the delay in the proceedings outweighs the lack of follow-ups from the accused,” the resolution read.

“Thus, the Court is constrained, much to its regret, to decree the dismissal of this case,” it added.

Syjuco, who also previously served as director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority is facing multiple criminal charges before the other divisions of the Sandiganbayan.

His cases include alleged purchased of TESDA educational materials overpriced by P61 million; alleged utilization of P4.3-million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel to finance his poultry business; and the alleged anomalous grants of TESDA scholarships worth P79.9 million.

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