New doctrine of inordinate delay (2018)


Every accused has the rights to due process and to speedy disposition of cases. Inordinate delay in the resolution and termination of a preliminary investigation will result in the dismissal of the case against the accused. Delay, however, is not determined through mere mathematical reckoning but through the examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding each case. Courts should appraise a reasonable period from the point of view of how much time a competent and independent public officer would need in relation to the complexity of a given case. Nonetheless, the accused must invoke his or her constitutional rights in a timely manner. The failure to do so could be considered by the courts as a waiver of right. (G.R. No. 206438. July 31, 2018)

The concept of inordinate delay was introduced in Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, where the Supreme Court was constrained to apply the "radical relief' of dismissing the criminal complaint against an accused due to the delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation. The Court, however, emphasized that "[a] mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not sufficient" to rule that there was inordinate delay.

In People v. Sandiganbayan, Fifth Division, the ruling that fact-finding investigations are included in the period for determination of inordinate delay is abandoned.

The determination of whether the delay was inordinate is not through mere mathematical reckoning but through the examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. Courts should appraise a reasonable period from the point of view of how much time a competent and independent public officer would need in relation to the complexity of a given case. If there has been delay, the prosecution must be able to satisfactorily explain the reasons for such delay and that no prejudice was suffered by the accused as a result. The timely invocation of the accused's constitutional rights must also be examined on a case-to-case basis.

EDU PUNAY VIA PHILSTAR: The period for the resolution of graft cases starts with the preliminary investigation phase in the Office of the Ombudsman. The Supreme Court (SC) set this guideline for judicial determination when a case is considered to be suffering from inordinate delay, which is common ground for seeking dismissal of cases before the Sandiganbayan. Voting 8-2 in session, the justices upheld the position of the ombudsman that the reckoning period for the right to a speedy trial does not start with the fact-finding investigation.
“The court interpreted the reckoning period for the right to ‘speedy disposition of cases’ under Article II , Section 16 to start from the preliminary investigation of cases, and not before the preliminary investigation ends, not from the fact-finding stage,” SC spokesman Theodore Te said in a press briefing. The SC made the ruling through a petition filed by former Sarangani provincial treasurer Cesar Cagang, who submitted for the court’s resolution the same issue raised in the petition filed by the ombudsman in 2016 that sought to revisit the inordinate delay doctrine.

The High Court has not immediately released a copy of the decision pending completion of signatures of the justices. An insider revealed that the ruling effectively revised the doctrine set by the SC in its 2014 decision that junked the $2-million extortion case against former justice secretary Hernani Perez filed by former Manila congressman Mark Jimenez in 2001 due to inordinate delay by the ombudsman.

SOURCE: Edu Punay (The Philippine Star). August 1, 2018. 12:00am. Supreme Court revises ‘inordinate delay’ doctrine in graft cases. https://www.philstar.com/nation/2018/08/01/1838514/supreme-court-revises-inordinate-delay-doctrine-graft-cases.

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