Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores and his wife, former Ibajay, Aklan Mayor Ma. Lourdes, were acquitted by the Sandiganbayan of graft charges over the alleged non-disclosure of wealth in their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
Voting 4-1, the Special Second Division, in a Nov. 14 resolution, granted the motion of the Miraflores couple dismissing their charges for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, citing “inordinate delay.”
“A careful review of the records and the timeline of the disposition of these cases shows that these rules of procedure were not complied with by the Office of the Ombudsman,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Florencio was accused of graft for failing to declare his family’s cash investments amounting to P6.16 million in Rural Bank of Ibajay Inc., an Isuzu Elf truck, a Nissan Safari Wagon, a Mazda pick-up, and a Kawasaki motorcycle in his SALN for 2006.
The Ombudsman said same investments and properties were not declared in the 2007 SALNs of the Miraflores couple; even as they “willfully, unlawfully and criminally” fail to disclose the motor vehicles in their respective SALNs for 2008 and 2009.
But the Miraflores couple underlined their rights to a speedy disposition of the case.
They said Ombudsman investigators took more than three years to conduct their preliminary investigation.
The Sandiganbayan agreed with the Mirafloreses: “The passage of time in the conduct of the investigations weakens the defense of the accused. In these cases, the attendant delay has already caused tactical disadvantage in the preparation of the accused’s defense.”
Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi penned the resolution, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Reynaldo Cruz, and Lorifel Pahimna. Associate Justice Oscar Herrera dissented.