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Sandiganbayan dismisses graft raps vs. Southern Leyte mayor

The Sandiganbayan has granted the motion of San Francisco, Southern Leyte Mayor Samson Gamutan Jr. to dismiss the graft charges filed against him in connection with the irregular cash advances his brother received in 2012.

In a 13-page resolution promulgated on March 2, the First Division said it is dismissing the case of Gamutan due to inordinate delay and since the facts stated in the charge sheet do not constitute an offense.

"This court is constrained to decree the quashal of the informations, and the dismissal of the cases, on the grounds that the facts charged in the informations do not constitute an offense, and that the right of the accused-movants to a speedy disposition of their cases is violated on account of inordinate delay," the resolution read.

Samson's brother and private secretary Jesus Gamutan was also acquitted in the case.

The Sandiganbayan ordered the lifting of the brothers' hold departure orders and release of their respective bail bonds.

The case stemmed when Samson allegedly allowed the release of three disbursement vouchers for the cash advance of his brother worth a total of P393,540.17.

The Ombudsman said Samson approved the disbursement "despite the fact that Jesus was not entitled to receive such cash advance."

However, the Sandiganbayan said there is no evidence that the cash advance caused undue injury to the government nor did it give unwarranted benefits to a private party.

The anti-graft court further said the prosecution failed to present any justifiable reason as to why the case took more than five years for graft investigators to complete its fact-finding and preliminary investigations.

"Considering that not all the essential elements were satisfied, the Court holds, and hereby rules, that the facts charged in the informations do not constitute a violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019," the Sandiganbayan said.

"With respect to the argument that the accused-movants' right to a speedy disposition of their cases is violated, the Court hereby finds, and so holds, that the Ombudsman indeed committed inordinate delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation," it added. —KBK, GMA News