Queen Nicole Ong
The second division of Sandiganbayan rejected the request for dismissal filed by the 3rd district secretary of Cebu Gwendolyn Garcia, trying to remove her criminal charges in connection with the abnormal purchase of property on the coastline of 24.92 hectares in Tiga-an, Naga, Cebu cost P98. 9 million in 2008.
Because of this purchase, Garcia was charged with two points of transplantation and one counting of the disorder. She filed a request for dismissal and stated that her right to a speedy review of cases was violated.
She said the delay was caused by “flip-flopping” in the trial strategy of the prosecution. Initially, the prosecutor's office wanted to present 43 witnesses, but then changed its mind and wanted to submit 78. However, so far only five have been represented.
Given the speed with which the witnesses were represented, Garcia argued that it would have taken 30 years to initiate a criminal case. By that time, she said that she no longer had witnesses.
Garcia also stated that the ombudsman refused to provide her with a copy of her complaints, so she was unable to file her for an affidavit.
However, Sandiganbayan did not see a delay from the prosecution. The ombudsman received a complaint against Garcia in 2010, and it took a little over two years to complete his investigation and file charges against her in 2012.
“This period of time seems reasonable considering the number of respondents participating in the investigation, the documents collected by the Ombudsman and questions for determining the latter,” the court decided.
Regarding Garcia's complaint about the presentation of witnesses, Sandiganbayan said that this is just speculation, which is not enough for them to reject her cases.
“The presence of her witnesses, the rules provide her other legal remedies, but not dismiss these cases. In the same vein, with regard to the number of witnesses for the prosecution, the same applies to another issue in which the accused can properly challenge, but definitely cannot be the basis for the present movement, ”the court said.
In general, the anti-burglary court did not see an annoying, capricious or depressing delay in the investigation of the ombudsman and the trial of cases, so the Garcia movement was rejected due to lack of merit.
The 12-page decision was signed by Chairman Oscar Herrera, Jr., Associated Judges Lorifel Pahimna and Efrén De La Cruz. Associate judges Michael Frederick Mousngi and Geraldine Vera Ekong provided dissenting opinions.