Sandigan suspends Aurora execs over graft raps
by Allan Yves Briones
The Sandiganbayan 6th Division shut down the arguments of five current Aurora officials in relation to their pending 90-day preventive suspensions over their graft charges.
“It is well-settled that preventive suspension under Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 is mandatory,” the anti-graft court stated in a resolution promulgated October 22.
On September 24, five Aurora officials filed a motion contesting the imposition of a suspension including Provincial Administrator Simeon De Castro, Provincial General Services Officer Ricardo Bautista, Assistant Provincial Engineer Benedicto Rojo, and Bids and Awards Committee members Norma Clemente and Isaias Noveras, Jr.
In their motion, they averred that the suspension is no longer necessary since the prosecution already has in their possession all the evidence necessary to prosecute.
In addition, they reasoned that there has been no indication that they have attempted to harass witnesses, as well as not having the power or the authority to do so.
However, the court explained that to warrant the imposition of preventive suspension, only two conditions must be met: that the accused is a public official, and that he is charged with graft or fraud.
“[O]nce the Court determines that the information charging a public officer with an offense (as stated), it is bound to issue an order of preventive suspension of the accused public officer as a matter of course,” the resolution read, citing the Supreme Court case of Flores vs. Layosa.
With the exception of Clemente, who has since retired, the accused are suspended for 90 days.
The Aurora officials were charged with graft over alleged irregularities in a 2014 road project.
The resolution is written by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero, concurred by Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda. #
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