• Petition of accused in noodle scam junked

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    THE Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the petition filed by four officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) who were preventively suspended over their alleged involvement in the noodle scam case in 2007 and 2009.

    In a 16-page decision signed by Associate Justice Myra Garcia-Fernandez and concurred by Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Francisco Acosta, the Court’s Ninth Division dismissed for being moot the petition for certiorari filed by DepEd’s Bid and Awards Committee (BAC) Vice Chairman Macur Marohombsar, and members Demetria Manuel and Nanette Mamoransing and Artemio Capellan Jr.

    Former DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus and Marohombsar, et al were charged by Prudencio Quido Jr. and Myrna Gonzales with graft and grave misconduct arising from the supposed overpriced purchase of fortified instant noodles “with fresh eggs” in 2007 and fortified noodles “with fresh eggs and malunggay” in 2009.

    Then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez issued six-month preventive suspension orders against the respondents in February 2011.

    Marohombsar and others questioned their suspension without pay slapped against them.

    But while the petition filed by Marohombsar and others was pending with the appeals court, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed the multimillion-peso graft and administrative cases against them.

    In March 2012, Carpio-Morales found no sufficient evidence to hold them administratively or criminally liable for alleged bid rigging.

    “In view of the dismissal of both criminal and administrative cases against petitioners for lack of probable cause and absence of substantial evidence, there is no more need to discuss the propriety or validity of the issuance of preventive suspension pending the investigation,” the CA ruling stated.

    “The issue has become moot and academic. Clearly, petitioners have been exonerated from the charges filed against them.”

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