Monday, September 23, 2019

Anti-graft office clears Puentevella of malversation

Monico Puentevella

THE Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City dismissed the criminal charges filed against former congressman and Mayor Monico Puentevella and two others related to the hosting of the Bacolod leg of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games (Sea Games).

The nine-page decision was approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on February 7.

The copy of the decision was distributed to the media yesterday.

The complaint was filed by Samuel Montoyo against Puentevella, Edwin Javella, finance head of Bacolod Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Basoc), and Eric Loretizo, secretary general of Basoc for malversation of public funds and failure to render accounts.

The order stated that the Joint Resolution dated November 2016 finding probable cause against Puentevella for malversation of funds and violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 is hereby reversed and set aside. Accordingly, OMB-V-C-14-0092 and OMB-V-C-14-0249 are dismissed.

In its joint order, the Ombudsman states that there was clear and unjustified delay in the Field Investigation Office’s (FIO) fact-finding investigation, hence the body is constrained to dismiss OMB-V-C-14-0092 and OMB-V-C-14-0249 in observance of Puentevella’s constitutional right to speedy disposition of the cases against him.

In its determination of whether Puentevella’s right has been violated, the Ombudsman considered the length of delay, the reasons for the delay, the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused, and the prejudice caused by the delay, as attendant factors to its evaluation.

The cases were first endorsed to the anti-graft body in 2009 but the FIO only terminated its fact-finding investigation in 2014 when it filed its complaint before the Ombudsman in the Visayas. The records failed to show that the FIO was able to justify why it incurred a delay of five years in terminating the fact-finding investigation, the order added.

For his part, Puentevella, who is now running for congressman, said he is grateful that the case has finally been resolved.

“For the past 10 years, my colleagues and I have been unfairly subjected to trial by publicity. This dismissal is a welcome vindication and only shows that the filing of those cases were politically motivated and meant to mislead the public from the resounding success of our hosting of the SEA Games,” he said.

He added that he is glad that the legal hurdle is over and that he can move on with endeavors that really matter for Bacolod City.

Puentevella said he received the copy of the order on Friday.

Puentevella said it’s a blessing in disguise that he received the order during the campaign period.

“I think this is the case that will make me win in the May elections. That’s why I’m very happy,” he said. (MAP)


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