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Binays’ motion to junk graft cases denied

Keith A. Calayag

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The appeals of the accused before the Commission on Audit cannot be a ground for dismissal of their case.

The anti-graft graft court has denied the motions filed by former Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son Junjun to dismiss the graft cases filed against them in relation to the anomalous construction of the P2 billion parking building in Makati City.

In a decision dated 3 September, the Sandiganbayan Third Division stated that the the Court can still act on the cases against the Binays pending their appeal before the Commission on Audit (CoA).

“The doctrine of primary jurisdiction finds no application to these criminal cases. The pendency of the accused-movants’ appeal before the COA does not divest the Court of its jurisdition to hear and try these criminal cases,” the Sandigan decision read.

The Binays and several other respondents motioned for the dismissal of the criminal cases filed against them on the ground that they have pending appeals before the CoA that question the decision ordering them to return to the government the P2.29 billion spent for building the Makati Hall Parking Building II.

The Court finds this arguments devoid of merit.

It said although the accused have pending appeals before the CoA assailing the validity of the issuance of the notices of disallowance relative to the procurement, this does not constitute a valid ground for the dismissal of the criminal cases lodged against them or even the suspension of the proceedings.

The Sandiganbayan also said the prosecution did not commit forum shopping in instituting the cases against the accused.

The Court explained that there is forum shopping when a party repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively and raise same issues either pending in or already resolved adversely by some other court.

It also said that it did not violate Junjun’s right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him and his right for a speedy trial.

In his motion, Junjun said the prosecution’s act of submitting separate joint stipulations of facts for each of the individual accused in the criminal cases is a blatant violation of the rights of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the charges against them.

He also asserted that the prosecution violated his right to speedy trial after it failed to file and serve its pre-trial brief before the scheduled pre-trial on 8 Junuary 2019.

“The Court finds the said argument devoid of merit,” the Sandiganbayan said.

The Binays, along with other Makati City officials were charged with graft and malversation for the alleged overpriced Makati parking building.

The decision was penned by Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and concurred in by Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.

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