Image Source: newsinfo.inquirer.net
Image Source: newsinfo.inquirer.net

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a reinvestigation of three co-accused of Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile in the graft charges arising from the pork barrel scam.

In a resolution, the Sandiganbayan gave the Ombudsman 30 days upon receipt of the order within which to submit results of the reinvestigation of the cases against Laarni Uy, Rodrigo Galay, and Hernani Ditchon. The three accused had earlier filed a motion for reinvestigation, which was granted by the Sandiganbayan.

The resolution was signed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang, the division chairperson; and Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Samuel Martires.

The three accused claimed that they were never informed by the Ombudsman that it had been conducting a preliminary investigation against them.

In granting the motion, the Third Division stated that a preliminary investigation is not merely a formal and technical right, but a “substantive right” of the accused.

“To deny the accused’s right to a preliminary investigation is to deprive them of the full measure of his right to due process,” the graft court stated.

Records show that the three accused had not participated in the preliminary investigation conducted by the Ombudsman before it filed the graft charges at the Sandiganbayan.

According to prosecutors, the Ombudsman sent an order dated July 29, 2013, requiring the three accused to file their respective affidavits. Attached to the order were copies of the complaints and annexes as well as copies of the Joint Resolution and Joint Order from the Ombudsman.

The prosecutors said that these were mailed to the office addresses of the three accused at the Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc. (APMFI) in Parañaque City and Laguna office based on records from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Allegedly, all said mails returned with notation that ‘addresses are unknown’ and ‘addressee moved out’,” the court noted. (Manila Bulletin)