Anti-graft court suspends Bacolod City mayor

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The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division granted the prosecution’s motion to suspend Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella pending litigation of the graft charge filed against him in connection with the alleged overpriced purchase of information technology (IT) packages using his pork barrel fund.

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In an eight-page resolution promulgated on September 28, the court held that the suspension of a public officer pending criminal prosecution under a valid graft charge is mandatory under Section 13 of the anti-graft law.

“Accused Monico Puentevella is ordered preventively suspended from his present position as Mayor of the City of Bacolod, Province of Negros Occidental, or from any other government position he may now or afterwards hold for a period of ninety (90) days, effective immediately upon receipt and implementation of this resolution,” the court ruled.

“The Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government is directed to implement the preventive suspension of the accused public officer for ninety (90) days and to inform this Court of the action taken with regard to the suspension within five days from receipt of this resolution,” it further said.

The ruling was signed by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, who leads the court’s Fourth Division, and Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Oscar Herrera Jr.

Puentevella was charged in connection with the purchase of IT Packages from Merryland Publishing Corporation at P400,000 each or a total of P26 million using his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel fund allocation without calling for a public bidding that allegedly resulted in the purchase of overpriced IT packages.

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