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8.DUTERTEV.

SANDIGANBAYAN
GRNO.130191
APRIL27,1998
Art.3,Sec.16Righttospeedydispositionofcases
FACTS: PetitionerswerechargedbeforetheSandiganbayanforviolatingR.A.No.3019,
otherwiseknownastheAntiGraftAndCorruptPracticesActforallegedlyenteringintoan
anomalouscontractforthepurchaseofcomputerhardwareandaccessorieswiththeSystems
Plus,Incorporated.Itappearsthatfouryearspriortofilingoftheinformationbeforethe
Sandiganbayan,petitionersweremerelydirectedtosubmitapointbypointcommentunder
oath on the allegations in a civil case filed against them before the RTC and on the
allegationsinanunverifiedcomplaintfiledbeforetheOmbudsmanbytheAntiGraftLeague.
Petitionershadnoinklingthattheywerebeingsubjectedtoapreliminaryinvestigationasin
facttherewasnoindicationintheorderthatapreliminaryinvestigationwasbeingconducted.
Petitionersfiledamotionamotionforreconsiderationallegingamongothersthattheywere
deprivedoftheirrighttoapreliminaryinvestigation,dueprocessandthespeedydisposition
oftheircase,whichtheSandiganbayandenied.Theyfiledamotiontoquashbutthesame
wasdeniedbytheSandiganbayan.
ISSUE/S:Whetherornottherewasadelayinthedispositionoftheircase.
HELD:YES.Theinordinatedelayintheconductofthepreliminaryinvestigationinfringed
upontheirconstitutionallyguaranteedrighttoaspeedydispositionoftheircase.
Compoundingthedeprivationofpetitionersoftheirrighttoapreliminaryinvestigationwas
theundueandunreasonabledelayintheterminationoftheirregularlyconductedpreliminary
investigation.Adelayofclosetothree(3)yearscannotbedeemedreasonableorjustifiable
inthelightofthecircumstancesobtaininginthecaseatbar.Wearenotimpressedbythe
attempt of the Sandiganbayan to sanitize the long delay by indulging in the speculative
assumption that the delay may be due to a painstaking and grueling scrutiny by the
Tanodbayan as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation
meritedprosecutionofaformerhighrankinggovernmentofficial.Inthefirstplace,sucha
statement suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be emphatically rejected.
Secondly,threeoutofthefivechargesagainstthepetitionerwereforhisallegedfailureto
filehisswornstatementofassetsandliabilitiesrequiredbyRepublicActNo.3019,which
certainlydidnotinvolvecomplicatedlegalandfactualissuesnecessitatingsuchpainstaking
and grueling scrutiny as would justify a delay of almost three years in terminating the
preliminary investigation. The other two charges relating to alleged bribery and alleged
giving of unwarranted benefits toa relative, while presenting more substantial legal and
factualissues,certainlydonotwarrantorjustifytheperiodofthreeyears,whichittookthe
Tanodbayantoresolvethecase.
Petitionersinthiscase,however,couldnothaveurgedthespeedyresolutionoftheircase
becausetheywerecompletelyunawarethattheinvestigationagainstthemwasstillongoing.
Peculiartothiscase,wereiterate,isthefactthatpetitionersweremerelyaskedtocomment,
and not file counteraffidavits which is the proper procedure to follow in a preliminary
investigation.Aftergivingtheirexplanationandafterfourlongyearsofbeinginthedark,
petitioners,naturally,hadreasontoassumethatthechargesagainstthemhadalreadybeen
dismissed.

PreparedbyJobenOdulio1C