Graft case vs Ozamiz City mayor, daughter junked with finality

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan affirmed its earlier decision to dismiss the graft case filed against Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr and his daughter, Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez.

In a resolution dated June 14, the Sandiganbayan 5th Division junked the Office of the Ombudsman's motion for reconsideration that sought to revive the case filed against the two local officials in November 2016.

Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, Rafael Lagos, and Reynaldo Cruz earlier ruled to dismiss the case due to inordinate delay and "defective information."

The father-daughter tandem was accused of furthering their interests when they allegedly awarded the contract to renovate a gymnasium to Parojinog and Sons Construction Company in 2008. The company was listed in the mayor's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) in 2001.

An arrest order was issued against the accused last February but the anti-graft court dismissed the case in April due to the prosecution's failure to specify the criminal offense allegedly committed by the local officials.

The Sandiganbayan also said the Ombudsman did not explain why the case was delayed for 5 years and 11 months from the time it was referred by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2010. 

The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that they should have been told to rectify the defective information. They also said the Sandiganbayan mistakenly started the computation of the period with the DOJ referral instead of the start of the preliminary investigation in 2014.  

In its latest ruling, the Sandiganbayan maintained that the relevant period for the case began from the time that the DOJ asked the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit to review the contract. 

The Sandiganbayan also said the prosecution's appeal failed to address the court's finding that the information "does not sufficiently allege facts constituting the offense as charged."

President Rodrigo Duterte previously linked the Parojinogs to the illegal drug trade. The vice mayor was reported to be the girlfriend of drug lord and New Bilibid Prison inmate Herbert Colanggo. –