• Mayor wants hearing before a likely sacking


    INCUMBENT mayor Jefferson Soriano of Tuguegarao City is pushing for a hearing before the Sandiganbayan takes up the move of the Office of the Ombudsman that asked for his ouster from office.

    In a two-page motion, Soriano, who stands trial over the P34-million Robinson chopper controversy, said that a pre-suspension hearing must be accorded to him to justify the “validity of the information.”

    The police-turned-mayor said that the argument of prosecutors that suspension is self-operative as stated in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is not automatic.

    “There has to be a pre-suspension hearing to determine . . . [that]the accused could in fact be capable of frustrating his prosecution,” the motion read.

    The defense argued that Soriano, who won in the May elections, could not meddle with any tampering of evidence which the Ombudsman is trying to prevent because he already holds a different office.

    “The accused now hold a position entirely distinct from being the chairman of the bids and awards committee of the Philippine National Police [PNP] under which he was charged,” the defense raised.

    They added that Soriano could not access anymore any documents or pieces of evidence from his former office as his nature of the job at present is “largely dissimilar.”

    Soriano said that his stint as a law enforcer in PNP takes care of processing awards of contracts, while as a mayor, he already performs executive functions.

    “The possibility therefore of committing similar acts of malfeasance is nil, the job description being entirely different,” the motion read.

    Soriano is among the police officers including former police chief Jesus Verzosa, who are facing criminal lawsuits in line with the P34-million chopper controversy.

    The case stemmed from the dubious purchase of the PNP of two Robinson R44 Raven 1 helicopters in 2009 from Manila Aerospace Trading Corp.

    The Ombudsman accused a slew of high-ranking PNP officers of purchasing the choppers as brand new, considering that investigation showed that these were previously owned by Jose “Mike” Miguel Arroyo, husband of former president and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga.


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