Sandiganbayan rebukes NIA-7 officials over forum shopping

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Sandiganbayan rebukes NIA-7 officials over forum shopping

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The Sandiganbayan (SB) 2nd Division chided former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Regional Irrigation Manager (RIM)-7 Modesto Membreve, RIM-10 Julius S. Maquiling, and NIA-Bohol Provincial Irrigation Office Head, Olimpio J. Galagala for filing motions  considered “abusive of judicial processes.”

The anti-graft court also ordered Membreve, Galagala, and Maquiling including their lawyer, Atty. Eusebio M. Avila to explain in writing, why no disciplinary action should be taken against them for forum shopping.


According to a four-page resolution written by SB 2nd Division Chairperson Oscar C. Herrera, Jr. and concurred by Associate Justices Michael Frederick L. Musngi and Lorifel L. Pahina, the filing of a petition for certiorari and prohibition (with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction) filed before the Supreme Court (SC) on April 2, 2017 and a manifestation and joint omnibus motion before the graft court on June 18, 2017  are “the very same relief now also being sought by them before the Supreme Court.”


In the resolution promulgated on September 25, 2017, the graft court dismissed the petition as “devoid of merit” saying “that it appears that these actions of the movants and their counsel constitute forum shopping which is prohibited and considered trifling and abusive of judicial processes.”

The three NIA officials are facing criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan with four counts of Nepotism filed by the Ombudsman (OMB) on December 6, 2016.


In a text message to the Chronicle, Membreve who is now the RIM of Region 1V-A expressed confidence that the SC will decide in their favor since, unlike the Ombudsman where only one person evaluates the merits of the case the SC decides cases “based on evidence or documents and strict observance of our constitutional rights.”

Membreve also lambasted the OMB for “indicting us on conspiracy to commit nepotism without evidence.” but agreed with the SB resolution to dismiss their motion to suspend proceedings due to forum shopping, but not on merits of the case.”


Engr. Petronilo Sarigumba, president of the Bohol Against Corruption and Social Harassment (BACOSH) filed the criminal and administrative complaints against the NIA officials before the Ombudsman-Visayas on December 2, 2010. 

Sarigumba accused Membreve of “causing the appointment of his two daughters and his son-in-law to the NIA” in violation of Section 59, Chapter 7, Book V of Executive Order No. 292 on nepotism. 

Maquiling was included in the nepotism charges for issuing the appointments of Membreve’s two daughters and son-in-law while they were employed in Region X and Galagala as head of the Bohol Provincial Irrigation Office where they were transferred.


But the NIA officials argued that the motions filed before the SC was to review the resolutions of the Ombudsman finding probable cause to indict them for nepotism and a subsequent resolution denying their motion for reconsideration.

The motion before the SB to dismiss the nepotism information filed by the Ombudsman, according to the NIA officials was due to “inordinate delay” in the filing of the charges against them by the Ombudsman.”

The delay of seven years and seven months violated their constitutional right to a speedy trial depriving the Ombudsman of authority to file the nepotism charges thus depriving the SB of jurisdiction to hear their cases, according to the NIA officials.

But the graft court said that they are not a party in the certiorari petition nor a TRO was issued by the SC “hence there is no valid reason for the Court to suspend the proceedings in these cases.”

The SB resolution appeared on its website (Chito M. Visarra)

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