The Sandiganbayan’s Second Division has ordered the 60-day preventive suspension of Representative Aurora Enerio-Cerilles of Zamboanga Del Sur’s second district pending litigation of a graft case filed against her.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed a graft charge against her in 2013 for allegedly giving unwarranted benefit to Baganian Broadcasting Corporation in 2005 when she, who was then governor, allegedly issued a check from the account of the provincial government of Southern Leyte for P487,400.
Based on the charge sheet, the payment was unlawful because several Radio Broadcasting contracts enumerated in the charge were allegedly not entered into pursuant to the provisions of the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act 9184) and its implementing rules and regulations.
Ombudsman prosecutors filed a request for the court to suspend Cerilles pending litigation last June citing Section 13 of the anti-graft law (RA 3019), which mandates preventive suspension on any incumbent public officer facing a valid graft charge.
Cerilles opposed the move arguing, among others, that she is no longer governor of Zamboanga del Sur and that the only issue involved in the case is her alleged violation of RA 9184, which does not amount to a violation of the anti-graft law.
The court granted the prosecution’s request, saying in its ruling in part that, “The argument raised by the accused that the issue presented in this case does not amount to a violation of RA 3019 is not proper for determination in a Motion to Suspend Pendente Lite [pending litigation], such matter being subject to determination by the Court after trial on the merits.”