• Court asked to junk Cebu official’s plea

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    The prosecution is asking the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to deny the motion for reconsideration filed by former Municipal Mayor Celestino Martinez 3rd of Bogo (now City), Cebu on the ruling suspending him for 90 days pending litigation of the graft and malversation charges filed against him.

    In a five-page Consolidated Comment filed last December 22 on the motions for reconsideration filed by Martinez, Radaza, and Verdida, the prosecution said, “The very wording of Section 13 of Republic Act 3019 is clear and unequivocal: preventive suspension is mandatory…In Gonzaga v. Sandiganbayan the Supreme Court ruled that such preventive suspension is mandatory, there are no ifs and buts about it.”

    Martinez, presently an ex-officio Board Member of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan (Provincial Council), was meted with 90-day preventive suspension by the anti-graft court, along with Bogo City Councilors Rhett Minguez and Cresencio Verdida and Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City Mayor Paz Radaza.

    Under the Section 13 of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), any incumbent public officer facing a valid charge of graft in court shall be suspended.

    “This Honorable Court in its Resolution, promulgated on October 21, 2015, stated that the requisites for suspension, i.e., the validity of the Information [charge sheet]and the coverage by said Sec. 13 of R.A. 3019 have clearly been satisfied. Hence, the issuance of the order of preventive suspension against the accused should follow as a matter of course. There could be no doubt as to the validity of said Resolution,” the prosecution said.

    In a four-page Motion for Reconsideration filed on November 16, Martinez’ camp asked the court to reverse and set aside its ruling and to conduct a pre-suspension hearing.

    The defense argued that a pre-suspension hearing aims to secure fair and adequate opportunity for the accused to challenge the validity of the charge sheet or the regularity of the proceedings against him.

    “In this case, there was no show cause order issued by the Honorable Court before his suspension in office was ordered. We are in view that there is a need for a pre-suspension hearing to determine the validity and propriety of the charges made against the herein Accused before an order of suspension be issued,” the defense said.

    But in response, the prosecution said that the court afforded the defendants the benefit of a pre-suspension hearing on August 10, 2015. REINA TOLENTINO

    “When the Motion to Suspend Accused Pendente Lite [pending litigation]was heard, accused through their respective counsels, asked for a period of time to file their Opposition thereto,” it said.

    The prosecution filed the motion to suspend Celestino Martinez, Minguez, Verdida, and Radaza last July 22.

    Radaza, for her part, argued that she was not afforded her right to be heard and participate in the preliminary investigation of the cases.

    But the prosecution said that the court already considered this argument and found it to be without merit in an earlier ruling.

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