Ombudsman Martires to speed up resolution of cases
“There will be an inventory of cases undergoing fact-finding investigation. I will be issuing an order dismissing the cases that are undergoing fact-finding investigation for more than a year, without prejudice to the refiling of these cases,” Martires told members of the House of Representatives committee on appropriations yesterday during the hearing of the Office of the Ombudsman’s P2.885-million proposed budget for 2019.
Edd Gumban
Ombudsman Martires to speed up resolution of cases
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — On his first day in office yesterday, Ombudsman Samuel Martires vowed to institute reforms in the anti-graft agency, among them the dismissal of all cases pending fact-finding investigation for more than a year.

“There will be an inventory of cases undergoing fact-finding investigation. I will be issuing an order dismissing the cases that are undergoing fact-finding investigation for more than a year, without prejudice to the refiling of these cases,” Martires told members of the House of Representatives committee on appropriations yesterday during the hearing of the Office of the Ombudsman’s P2.885-million proposed budget for 2019.

Martires said he will issue the order today or within the week. He explained the measure is in line with the ombudsman’s aim to limit the number of cases being dismissed by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan due to “inordinate delay” in investigation.

Martires told the House panel that the Sandiganbayan dismissed more than 135 cases in recent years on the ground of “inordinate delay,” tantamount to violation of the constitutional right to speedy disposition of case of the accused.

In a chance interview with reporters, Martires explained that while the Supreme Court issued a ruling on July 31 revising the rules on inordinate delay, such ruling is prospective or applicable in succeeding complaints to be filed with the ombudsman.

“The cases long pending at the ombudsman will still be covered by the previous inordinate delay doctrine... So, let us dismiss the pending cases under fact-finding investigation without prejudice to refiling,” Martires said.

In its July 31 ruling, the SC sided with the position of the ombudsman that the reckoning period for the right to speedy trial does not start with the fact-finding investigation or the evidence-gathering stage, but with the formal preliminary investigation.

At yesterday’s hearing, Martires told the lawmakers that he will also order a shorter period of preliminary investigation.

“We will give every investigator only 90 days, unless for compelling or justifiable reasons that there is a need to extend the period of preliminary investigation. In no case will a preliminary investigation be more than one year,” Martires said.

“I also intend to centralize all preliminary investigations such that the investigating prosecutor will also be the trial prosecutor, so he would know how to build up this case,” he added.

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OMBUDSMAN SAMUEL MARTIRES
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