Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sandigan suspends Marinduque governor over fertilizer fund scam

File photo: View of the provincial capitol building, during a local issue-related rally. 

Sandigan suspends Marinduque governor over fertilizer fund scam

MANILA, Philippines -  The Sandiganbayan has issued a 60-day preventive suspension order against Marinduque Gov. Carmencita Reyes, who is facing trial on graft and other charges for alleged involvement in a P5-million fertilizer fund scam in 2004.
Magistrates of the anti-graft court’s Second Division said Reyes was suspended pending litigation, which means that she will temporarily have to vacate her post.
The Sandiganbayan noted that since Reyes underwent preliminary investigation and has already been arraigned, “the grant of the suspension therefore becomes compulsory on the part of the court.”
Reyes, in questioning the move by ombudsman prosecutors to have her suspended, tried to convince the court that temporarily unseating her is no longer needed since her continued stay in office will not affect the prosecution’s case, as government lawyers have already marked their evidence during pre-trial.
She also claimed that suspending her would be injustice to her since political opportunists may take advantage of such move, considering that the filing of candidacy for the May 2016 elections is at hand.
The Sandiganbayan, however, junked her arguments and directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the suspension order.
In its motion to suspend, ombudsman lawyers said suspension of Reyes pending litigation should be mandatory under Section 13 of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The law states that “any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title Seven Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property whether as a simple or as complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court shall be suspended from office.” - Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

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