Ombudsman wants former Cebu lawmaker jailed

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THE Office of the Ombudsman urged the Sandiganbayan to not to grant bail to a former Cebu lawmaker accused of transferring her “pork barrel” to the Girl Scouts of the Philippines for her personal use.

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Former Rep. Clavel Martinez, along 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 for reportedly diverting the P11.5-million cash grant for the Girl Scouts’ anti-drug campaign. Reports from the Ombudsman showed that from September to October 2003, the respondents connived in misappropriating the cash grant for Martinez’s personal use.

Government prosecutors are fighting tooth and nail to put Martinez and her cohorts behind bars. Ombudsman lawyers said that the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case should be considered a motion to quash information, pointing out 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 Martinez and the others lacked legal personality to ask the court for relief, 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,” the prosecutors said.

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