Anti-graft court junks former Oro mayor’s petition

FORMER Cagayan de Oro City mayor Vicente “Dongkoy” Emano will have to answer the graft charges against him at the Sandiganbayan following the court’s decision to deny Emano’s petition regarding the case of City Hall worker Leonor Esparcia.

The Sandiganbayan’s First Division, in a resolution promulgated on January 6, denied Emano’s motion to quash for lack of jurisdiction.

The former mayor had petitioned the anti-graft court to cease from hearing the graft case against him in relation to his refusal to implement an order of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to reinstate Esparcia to her previous position at the local government.

Esparcia was appointed as Administrative Assistant III (senior bookkeeper) at the J.R. Borja General Hospital, but she was reassigned and detailed as security guard at the City Library in 2009.

This led her to file a complaint against Emano at the Civil Service Commission (CSC), which ordered her reinstatement in September 2012.

In a six-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz, the Sandiganbayan denied the motion to quash (lack of jurisdiction) filed by Emano on November 4, 2016, for lack of merit.

The resolution quotes Emano’s motion that states “the accused (Emano) maintains that since the information against him neither alleges damage to the government in any monetary amount nor any bribery, it is the Regional Trial Court which has exclusive original jurisdiction over his case.”

Emano's legal counsel, lawyer Francis Ku, also said they wanted the Regional Trial Court to hear the complaint against Emano based on a new Sandiganbayan rule (Republic Act 10660), which was released in 2015.

The Sandiganbayan argued that the jurisdiction remained with them since the offense was committed in 2013 while the new law became effective in 2015.

"While the jurisdiction of a court is determined at the time of the institution of the action, specifically the filing of the information, section 2 of RA 10660 would still not apply in the present case," part of the resolution states.

"Considering that the offense charged against the accused was allegedly committed sometime in March 2013, this court is not divested of jurisdiction...," the resolution said.

Ku said the Sandiganbayan argued that minor cases are supposed to be heard by the RTC after the Supreme Court (SC) has issued rules of procedure pertaining to RA 10660.

"Wala pa daw maghimo og rules ang SC bahin sa procedural aning (The SC did not make any rules yet on procedures of) minor cases, there is still something to be executed so kaning RA 10660 is not self executing," Ku said.

But, Ku said they will no longer argue with the Sandiganbayan and will submit to the anti-graft court and proceed with the trial.

Ku said this is just the first step of the legal battle.

"Ok raman sa Sandiganbayan medyo hasol lang kay layo. Amo ning i-fight didto (Sandiganbayan is okay, it’s just hassle since it’s too far. We will pursue the case)," Ku said.

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