Ombudsman wants ex-Cebu lawmaker jailed

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THE Office of the Ombudsman urged the Sandiganbayan to disallow a former lawmaker of Cebu to post bail in a charge related to her alleged transfer of her “pork barrel” to the Girls Scouts of the Philippines.

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State prosecutors are fighting tooth and nail to have former representative Clavel Martinez and her co-accused behind bars, considering that her P10-million lawsuit in a non-bailable one.

Martinez, together with former mayor Celestino Martinez 3rd, municipal treasurer Rhett Minguez, municipal accountant Cresencio Verdida bookkeeper Rhodariza Kilantang, Girl Scouts cashier Julieta Quino and former Girl Scouts treasurer Maria Cielo Martinez, is facing graft and malversation charges before the anti-graft court for reportedly diverting the lion’s share of an P11.5-million cash grant for the Girl Scouts’ anti-drug campaign.

Investigation from the Ombudsman yielded that from September to October 2003, the respondents connived in misappropriating the amount of P10 million for the personal use and benefit of the lawmaker.

In their motions, the lawmaker, the mayor, Minguez and Verdida asked the Sandiganbayan to stop the issuance of the arrest order and for them to be given the chance to post bail in the malversation charge which is non-bailable.

Opposing the motions, government fiscals said that their pleadings already came too late because the court already issued a warrant of arrest in March against her and six other co-accused.

“The motion to suspend implementation of warrant of arrest came too late. The warrant of arrest had already been issued,” state lawyers said.

Even the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case should be treated as a motion to quash the information citing court rules that a move to dismiss the case prior to arraignment should be considered as a motion to quash, Ombudsman lawyers said.

They pointed that the accused “failed to provide or allege any of the grounds” as stated in the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The Ombudsman added that during the time of filing the motion, Martinez and others lacked legal personality to ask the court for reliefs as they have not yet presented themselves before the bench.

“To put it bluntly, they are not entitled to any relief until they have placed themselves in the custody of the law and appear before the court,” prosecutors said.

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