Sandigan allows ex-lawmaker to present evidence in graft raps

By: Gerome Dalipe

FORMER Iloilo Representative Rolex Suplico can present additional documents relative to the graft case he faces before the Sandiganbayan for alleged misuse of P14.7 million worth of pork barrel funds.

This, after the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division granted Suplico’s second motion to submit original copies of the documents to be examined by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The case stemmed from the alleged payment of P14.7 million sourced from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Suplico in 2007 for the implementation of livelihood and development projects for his constituents in the Fifth District.

Suplico and his co-accused, former Technology and Livelihood Resource Center director general Antonio Ortiz, tapped AARON Foundation for the project despite its ineligibility and dubious existence.

In a resolution dated Jan.15, 2019, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division junked Suplico’s motion to dismiss the graft case due to an “inordinate delay” of over eight years from the time a complaint was filed against him at the Ombudsman-Visayas in March 2014.

The Sandiganbayan ruled that Suplico erred in his argument, saying the Supreme Court held the determination on the existence of inordinate delay starts from the conduct of the preliminary investigation.

Thus, the supposed length of the delay is only about four years, the anti-graft court said.

Likewise, the Sandiganbayan said Suplico is also to be blamed for the delay when he failed to receive a copy of the complaint despite being sent to his three addresses in Iloilo.

In his motion, Suplico asked the Sandiganbayan to issue a subpoena duces tecum to Lolita Soriano, COA Special Audit Office supervising administrative officer, directing her to submit the originals documents.

The anti-graft office is also urged to order the NBI to examine the original documents and to verify whether the same are original documents or at least originally signed by the parties.

Suplico claimed he never signed the questioned documents and that his signatures were allegedly forged and superimposed.

In granting Suplico’s plea, the Sandiganbayan ruled that Suplico should be “afforded reasonable opportunity” to present evidence to support his allegation.

“This opportunity is an actual examination of the signatures he is questioned by no less than the country’s premier investigative force – the NBI. If he is denied such opportunity, his only evidence on this matter is negative testimonial evidence which is generally considered as weak,” read the Sandiganbayan ruling.