Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon said he will comply with whatever order the Sandiganbayan will issue regarding the prosecution’s plea for his suspension pendente lite (pending litigation) but he asked the court to allow him to serve his preventive suspension after he has finished defending the proposed budget of the Defense department for 2017.
Biazon is facing graft and malversation charges in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
In his six-page comment, Biazon said he “is not personally convinced and does not completely adhere with the wisdom of the prevailing doctrine on the mandatory character of the suspension provision of Section 13 of RA 3019.”
The lawmaker asked that his suspension start on October 10, 2016.
“The requested period of time is to enable the accused in the meantime to finish his official task to sponsor and defend the 2017 Proposed Budget of the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines and its other Attached Agencies,” the defense said.
Biazon is the vice chairman of the House appropriations panel.
According to the defense, he presented and defended the DND’s budget on September 27 and the final voting on the proposed budget will be on October 7.
The prosecution is also seeking the preventive suspension of Biazon’s co-accused Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and some employees of the Department of Budget.
The Ombudsman alleged that Biazon endorsed the non-government organization (NGO) Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI) as project partner in implementing a livelihood project for barangay (villages) in Muntinlupa funded by his PDAF worth P3 million in 2007. However, the project allegedly turned out to be non-existent.
Biazon has categorically denied having received any kickbacks from any transactions entered into by any government agency with NGOs supposedly run by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Also charged were Napoles and Evelyn De Leon; former Energy Regulatory Commission Chairperson Zenaida Ducut; former Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz; former TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan, and former TRC employees Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, and Maurine Dimaranan were also named respondents.
All the respondents are out on bail except Ortiz who remains at large, and Napoles who is serving life sentence at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong for serious illegal detention.