Travel ban for ex-Maasin mayor lifted

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By Rjay Zuriaga Castor 

The Sandiganbayan has lifted the travel ban against Maasin’s former mayor, Mariano Malones, following the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the charges against him due to undue judicial delay.

“The hold departure orders issued [against Malones] are ordered lifted and set aside,” the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division said in its four-page resolution dated May 3.

It has also ordered the return of the cash bond posted by Malones on April 8, 2015.

This decision from the Sandiganbayan follows the dismissal of charges against Malones by the Supreme Court’s Second Division in February, citing a violation of his right to a speedy trial.

The Sandiganbayan mentioned that it received the entry of judgment for the SC resolution in April, which declared the case against Malones “closed and terminated.”

Malones was among those involved in the 2004 fertilizer fund scam, which concerned unlawful disbursements of P291.2 million. This prompted the Office of the Ombudsman to file graft charges against him and other local officials.

In 2016, Malones moved to dismiss the charges on the grounds of violating the right to the speedy disposition of cases, but the Sandiganbayan denied this.

Malones asked the High Court to review the cases, effectively transferring the entire records of the case to the High Court.

Despite the SC’s clear directive, the Sandiganbayan noted procedural constraints, emphasizing that it lacked jurisdiction to act on the dismissal while the appeal was pending.

This procedural impasse was resolved on February 26, 2024, when the High Court granted Malones’s motion to withdraw his appeal and remanded the case to the Sandiganbayan.