Fewer cases filed, resolved in Ombudsman, Sandiganbayan

MANILA, Philippines – The number of cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman and cases resolved by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan appeared to have dropped to a 5-year low in 2015.

The Ombudsman filed only 354 cases from January to November 2015, compared to 482 for the entire 2011, 395 in 2012, 969 in 2013, and 452 in 2014. December 2015 data have yet to be tallied.

Of the cases filed last year, 152 or 43% were graft cases. The rest involved malversation of public funds, violations of presidential decrees, and bribery, among others.

High-profile cases filed by the Ombudsman in 2015 include those stemming from the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam. (READ: Looking at plunder in the PDAF cases)

Anti-graft court

The Sandiganbayan's 5 divisions also managed to resolve or dispose only 267 cases as of November 2015.

That figure is lower than the 430 cases it resolved in 2011, 363 in 2012, 480 in 2013, and 277 in 2014.

But Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said case disposal data should not be the sole indicator of the anti-graft court's overall performance.

"The number of resolutions we issued in 2015 on pending incidents in various cases was more than 3 times the number of case disposal," Cabotaje-Tang said.

Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Samuel Martires also said that the number of resolutions issued for motions filed by both prosecutors and defense lawyers must be taken into account as well.

"Actually, there were a lot of pending incidents that were resolved but were not counted as disposal. Kaya kami nagrereklamo (That's why we're complaining)," he said.

Case delays

Previously, the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Ombudsman criticized each other over delays in the handling of cases.

In a resolution issued in November 2014, Cabotaje-Tang said "inordinate delays" should be addressed as these have led to the dismissal of some cases.

But former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, speaking at a forum, said the bottleneck was at the Sandiganbayan. According to Marcelo, it takes the anti-graft court around a decade to process cases against government officials. – Rappler.com