The Sandiganbayan Special First Division finally tossed out the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in behalf of a group of concerned Tagbilaranons assailing a resolution dropping a graft case against fifteen top provincial officials and a businessman.
Dismissing their arguments as a “mere rehash” of prior pleadings and for its failure to present “new and compelling issues” to reverse the assailed resolution, the Sandiganbayan put an end to a graft case that dragged on for 15 years.
In a seven page resolution promulgated on June 1, 2016, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division denied the MR filed by the Ombudsman on February 5, 2016 “for lack of merit”.
The graft court ruled that the 15 years it took the Ombudsman to resolved the preliminary investigation of a graft case against then Governor Rene Relampagos, Vice Governor Edgar Chatto and 13 other top provincial officials and a businessman was a violation of their right to speedy trial.
At the root of the graft complaint is the sale to a Salcon consortium under an alleged rigged bidding, theÂ province owned electric and water utilities for a measly Php155 million despite an appraised valuation of Php1.48 billion, according to the complainants
Former OIC Governor Victor dela Serna, the late Tagbilaran City Councilor Alexander Lim, the late Human Rights Lawyer Nerio Zamora, former JAGO lawyer Zotico Ochavillo, former Board Member Aster Piollo and Women’s Right lawyer Myrna Pagsuberon represented Association of Concerned Tagbilaranons (ACT) in the graft case.
The graft case was filed against Former Governor Rene Relampagos, now 1st district Congressman, former Vice Governor, now Governor Edgar Chatto, former 3rd District Board Member, now outgoing Vice Governor and SangguniangÂ Panlalawigan Presiding Officer Concepcion Lim, former Provincial Legal Counsel Inocentes Lopez, former Provincial Development Officer Juanito Cambangay and Salcon President Dennis Villareal.
Also included as respondents in the graft complaint are incumbent Board Member Tomas Abapo, Jr. former Board Members Arnold Lungay, Isabelito Tongco, Eufracio Mascarinas, Francisco Alesna, Sr., Severino Caberte, Exequial Madrinan, Felix Uy, sitting as Provincial Councilors League (PCL) President, Renato Lim, sitting as President of the Association of Barangay CaptainsÂ and Lemuel Digal representing the Sangguniang Kabataan.
Cambangay, Caberte, Alesna, Sr., Madrinan, Lim and Digal are now deceased. (Chito M. Visarra)