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Sandiganbayan junks raps vs cop in perjury case

Thanks to the delay in its investigation, the Ombudsman has lost yet another high-profile case—this time involving a police chief accused of protecting illegal “jueteng” operations.

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges against former Philippine National Police Cordillera Administrative Region director, Chief Supt. Victor Luga, over his alleged failure to disclose his assets from year 2002 to 2004.

The charges for three counts each of perjury and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees arose from a lifestyle check held after Luga’s name was dragged in the Senate’s investigation of the illegal numbers game in 2005.

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In a 16-page resolution dated Nov. 21, the court’s Fifth Division said that the Ombudsman investigation was attended by “inordinate delay,” because it took 12 years before the cases were filed last Aug. 1.

Seven years passed before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices wrapped up the lifestyle check and filed a complaint on June 28, 2012, for preliminary investigation.

Unreasonable delay

It took another five years for the Ombudsman to find probable cause to bring the case to court.

The court found the length of the Ombudsman proceedings to be unreasonable because the case involved “no complicated or difficult questions.”

For one, it pointed out that Luga’s statements of assets, liabilities and net worth could had been easily secured from the PNP or the Office of the President. The Land Transportation Office also provided the Ombudsman with the records of Luga and his wife’s vehicles as early as January 2006.

“[Due to] the unjustified length of time inexcusably spent by the Office of the Ombudsman … it is undeniable that the accused’s constitutional right to due process and speedy disposition of cases had been violated,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos.

Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Lorifel L. Pahimna concurred in the resolution.

In a Senate hearing in May 2005, self-confessed jueteng operator Wilfredo Mayor accused Luga of being among the police regional chiefs who protected the operations in the mountainous region.

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