• Sandigan suspends media board chief

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    THE anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division has ordered the suspension of Optical Media Board Chairman Ronald “Ronnie” Ricketts and three other OMB officials pending litigation of the graft charge filed against them in connection with the release of confiscated pirated discs in 2010.

    In a seven-page resolution promulgated on January 27 and made public on Friday, the court granted the prosecution’s request to suspend Ricketts as well as the Head of the Enforcement and Inspection Division Manuel Mangubat, EID Investigation Agent I Joseph Arnaldo and EID Computer Operator II Glenn Perez.

    The defendants were ordered suspended from their position “or from any other government position they may now or afterward hold for a period of ninety (90) days, effective immediately upon receipt and implementation of this resolution.”

    The court directed the Office of the President to implement the preventive suspension and to inform it of the action taken within five days from receipt of the resolution as well as of the actual date of im-plementation of the suspension, along with the expiry of the 90-day period, “so that it shall be deemed automatically lifted at the end of its term.”

    “In the meantime, accused Ronaldo Naldo Ricketts, Manuel J. Mangubat, Joseph Dineros Arnaldo and Glenn Sarming Perez are directed to cease and desist from exercising the functions and privileges of their office for ninety days immediately upon receipt of this resolution,” the resolution said.

    The court said the issuance of the preventive suspension order under Republic Act (RA) 3019 was war-ranted considering that the defendants are incumbent officials of the OMB, they are being charged of graft, they were validly arraigned last July and the charge sheet was not subject to quashal (invalida-tion).

    Section 13 of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act provides for the 90-day preventive suspension of any incumbent public official facing a valid graft charge.

    “Under this rule, it becomes mandatory for the court to immediately issue the suspension order upon proper determination of the validity of the information [charge sheet],” the court said in part.

    Ricketts earlier filed a motion that sought to quash (void) the charge but which the court denied last November.

    Under the law (Luciano v. Mariano), the Sandiganbayan is authorized to issue a 90-day suspension provided that it has already determined that the charge filed against the accused is valid.

    REINA TOLENTINO

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