Ombudsman airs frustration over delays in trial of PDAF cases

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(CNN Philippines, April 25) — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is irked by delays in the trial of pork barrel scam cases before the Sandiganbayan.

She said these cases are not prospering because of dilatory tactics by individuals charged.

"The accused raise so many incidents to the SC. There are so many incidents that they want resolved by the Supreme Court. Hindi ba natin masasabing inordinate delay 'yan [Can't we say those are inordinate delays]?" Morales told reporters during a press conference held on April 25, 2017.

The first batch of cases in connection with the alleged diversion of pork funds to bogus NGOs controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles was filed in 2014.

These cases involve former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada and their alleged cohorts.

None of these cases have been tried. Revilla's case, in particular, had been set to start trial five times, and has been postponed in all settings.

The postponements were prompted by various motions filed by the defense that the court would first need to resolve before trial can begin.

"Judges are expected to control the proceedings. Sila nagko-control eh. Kung panay ang postponement mo na mabait ka masyado, and hindi naman legitimate 'yung ground for postponement, that is detestable if you grant the motion for postponement," Morales said.

[Translation: Judges are expected to control the proceedings. If you always allow postponement, and the grounds for postponement aren't legitimate, that is detestable if you grant the motion for postponement.]

The Ombudsman said delays in the trial poses additional challenges in the prosecution of cases.

She explained over time, some documentary evidence are deliberately or accidentally destroyed, witnesses die.

In some instances, she said prosecutors are promoted, therefore his case is passed on to a new prosecutor that would have to review the charges which also takes time.

As of 2016, 39 lawmakers have been charged over the alleged misuse of pork barrel.