DUE to “unjustified delay” the Sandiganbayan yesterday dismissed the graft case filed against former Senator Lito Lapid.
The Sandiganbayan First Division granted the motion filed by Lapid asking the anti-graft court to dismiss the case filed against him.
Lapid, who lost in the mayoral race in Angeles City, was charged with graft over pork barrel scam.
Lapid’s motion was adopted by his co-accused Ma. Victoria Aquino-Abubakar, Leolita Aquino and Dexter Alexander Vasquez.
In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan said the Office of the Ombudsman failed to justify why its preliminary investigation took more than three years from the time a complaint was filed in 2011.
The information was filed at the Sandiganbayan only in 2015.
“It bears stressing that in case of delay, the duty is upon the State to prove that the delay was reasonable, or that the delay was not attributable to it. But the prosecution clearly failed to hurdle this burden since no plausible explanation was given to justify the delay in the Ombudsman’s preliminary investigation,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Lapid and five others faced a case of violation of Sections 3 (e) and 3 (g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the alleged anomalous purchase of overpriced liquid fertilizers amounting to P4.761 million.
Based on the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman, the purchase was made without holding a public bidding and that the purchase was overpriced by as much as P4.268 million.
The purchase took place in May 2004 when Lapid was still the governor of Pampanga.
But Lapid asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the graft case against him because of the Ombudsman’s “inordinate delay” in filing the case.