• Mayor balks at Sandigan suspension bid

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    IN response to his suspension sought by state prosecutors before the Sandiganbayan in line with the P34-million Robinson chopper controversy, a police general-turned mayor of Tuguegarao City described it as “not applicable.”

    Also a lawyer, city Mayor Jefferson Soriano said the call for his suspension over his alleged involvement in the purchase of multimillion-worth chopper is “inapplicable and without basis.”

    Soriano said his suspension is no longer applicable since he belongs to a different organization.

    “I now belong to a different organization as elected official and thus [my suspension]is not applicable in our case anymore,” he said.

    During the time of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Jesus Verzosa, Soriano was the third highest-ranking PNP general.

    In the May 13 elections, Soriano won the Tuguegarao City mayoralty post defeating incumbent Mayor Delfin Ting with a very slim margin.

    Soriano’s victory ended the Ting’s nearly two decades of ruling the capital city of Tuguegarao.

    In 2009, along with Verzosa, Soriano is among the PNP officers facing criminal cases in connection with the reportedly anomalous purchase of two Robinson R44 Raven 1 helicopters for the police forces.

    Manila Aerospace Trading Corp. was reportedly the seller of the choppers as brand new only to find out in an investigation that the choppers were reportedly previously owned by former First Gentleman Jose “Mike” Arroyo, husband of now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga.

    In a reported three-page motion to suspend pendente lite (pending trial), acting director Omar Sagadal of the Office of the Special Prosecutor sought for Soriano’s suspension as mayor of Tuguegarao City.

    Prosecutors said Soriano should be suspended as the city chief as enshrined in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    “Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information . . . shall be suspended from office,” the prosecution’s motion read.

    The prosecutors also cited Supreme Court jurisprudence which “makes it mandatory for the Sandiganbayan to suspend” the officials facing corruption charges.

    Soriano said they would argue the prosecution’s motion to have him suspended in court.

    “Our position is that the evil sought to be avoided in a preventive suspension is so that the public official will not be able to influence those that may testify against him in his organization and may not be able to tamper or do anything with the documents or evidences in his organization is not applicable in our case,” Soriano said.

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