Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz and Office of the Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval faced the Judicial and Bar Council on Wednesday for their bid to become the next ombudsman. Cagadas
Next ombudsman must address delay in resolving cases, applicants say
Kristine Joy Patag ( - June 20, 2018 - 10:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — Two lawyers with experience at the anti-graft court identified case delays at the Office of the Ombudsman as one of the problems its next chief must resolve.

Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval and Sandiganbayan Justice Efren dela Cruz on Wednesday faced the Judicial and Bar Council in a public interview for their application to become the country's next chief graft buster.

READ: High-profile cases for the next ombudsman

Dela Cruz, who chairs the Sandiganbayan’s First Division, said that he is familiar with the inner workings of the Office of the Ombudsman. This, he said, would help him become an effective ombudsman.

The JBC also noted that the sala of Dela Cruz has a high case disposal rate. Asked how he would deal with the volume of cases at the Office of the Ombudsman, he said that he will replicate what Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales did during her stint.

“I heard [of] the incumbent ombudsman that she is working there very early in the morning and leaving the office late in the evening, even during non-working days. I’m willing to do that, your honor,” he said.

Dela Cruz said that he will also conduct an inventory of cases “to determine the choke points in the resolution of cases, the choke points why there are such delays.”

He also said that ombudsman prosecutors should undergo training “so that they can be effective in the handling of the case.”

'Inordinate delay'

Sandoval, who previously sat as Sandiganbayan presiding justice, said that he has increased the rate of conviction at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Asked what his mission would be if appointed ombudsman, Sandoval said that he would like to settle the ‘inordinate delay’ in court.

“Hundreds of cases we filed with the Sandiganbayan and with regular courts have been dismissed due to inordinate delay,” Sandoval said.

A case at the Sandiganbayan may be dismissed due to “inordinate delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation.”

According to jurisprudence, the delay is a violation to the respondent’s constitutional rights to due process of law and to a speedy disposition of the case against them.

Sandoval said: “I was studying the cases, your honors, the Sandiganbayan, their yardstick in the timeline of cases is not uniform. In some cases...the SC would require that the time spent in fact-finding should be included in time in preliminary investigation."

But Sandoval pointed out that in other cases, the SC “would say because we were advocating that, we do not consider the time spent in fact-finding investigation because there is no respondent yet.”

RELATED: Sandiganbayan judge says SC must reverse 'inordinate delay' doctrine

Sandoval also talked about a “parking fee” scheme, where prosecutors deliberately prolong resolving cases.

“There are some cases that would take two or three years to resolve a motion for reconsideration,” Sandoval noted.

He stressed: “To be a good ombudsman, you have to be suspicious [of such incidents].”

The JBC wrapped up its public interview on the ombudsman applicants on Wednesday. The panel is expected to create a shortlist of the candidates that will then be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte who will appoint the next Ombudsman.

Morals will retire on July 26, after having served the Office of the Ombudsman for seven years.

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