The Sandiganbayan junked Friday two motions filed by former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez seeking suspension of proceedings in his graft cases.
The Sandiganbayan's First and Fourth Divisions said Perez failed to secure restraining orders from the Supreme Court on the basis of his petition for certiorari challenging the validity of his indictment by the Office of the Ombudsman last April 16.
Perez was charged with two counts of graft and one count each of robbery and falsification of public documents. Perez’ wife Rosario, brother-in-law Ramon Arceo and businessman Ernest Escaler were named co-defendants in the robbery case and one of the graft cases.
The cases stemmed from the complaint of former congressman Mark Jimenez who accused Perez of extorting $2 million from him in 2001. In his original complaint, Jimenez said Perez threatened to put him in jail if he failed to implicate former president Joseph Estrada for the crime of plunder.
Jimenez later withdrew his complaint.
“Considering that the Supreme Court has so far refused to issue any injunctive writ or restraining order against the Sandiganbayan; considering further that under the new rules it is mandatory, not discretionary for this Court to proceed with this case; (and) that this court may now be held administratively liable if it fails to proceed with this case ... the Court finds the subject motion to without sufficient merit, and hence, the same is hereby denied,” the Fourth Division held.
The First Division, on the other hand, denied the Perez couple's’ motion in open court along with similar pleadings filed by Escaler and Arceo.
Presiding Justice Diosdado Peralta, First Division chairman, pointed out that a suspension of proceedings will mean that the court cannot act on the motions to quash filed by the four accused.
However, the division granted the defendants a two-month deferment of their scheduled arraignment Friday pending resolution of their motions to quash.
The date of arraignment was reset to July 18.
The defendants’ motions to quash challenged the validity of the graft case on questions of jurisdiction and procedures due to the fact that it took the Ombudsman almost seven years to come up with a recommendation for indictment.