‘Suspension will serve no purpose’

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North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza has asked the Sandiganbayan’s First Division to deny the prosecution’s recommendation for her preventive suspension after graft charges were filed against her, saying the order “will serve no purpose.”

Mendoza is facing three counts of graft in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of P2.4 million worth of diesel fuel in 2010.

“Contrary to the prosecution’s claim, the preventive suspension of accused Gov. Mendoza will serve no purpose given the factual circumstances of the instant criminal proceedings,” the defense said in a 10-page Opposition filed on Thursday.

The prosecution last month filed a motion before the court to suspend Mendoza pending litigation, arguing that the validity of the charges is no longer in question with her arraignment and her preventive suspension “must follow as a matter of course pursuant to Section 13 of RA 3019…”

Section 13 of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act mandates the preventive suspension of incumbent public officers facing a valid graft charge.

The prosecution said “there is a possibility that [Mendoza] might intimidate witnesses and hamper her prosecution” because she is still in office.

In the Opposition, Mendoza’s lawyers recalled that private complainant Artemio Suico was never prevented from accessing documents from the local government and presented proofs supporting their claim.

Mendoza also maintained that the acts imputed to her are not enough to constitute a violation of the anti-graft law that would warrant her mandatory suspension, as her camp argued that her participation in the purchase of the fuel came only after the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) had determined the manner of procurement and the supplier.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed the charges against Mendoza, alleging that the fuel, was bought from a gasoline station owned by her mother without calling for a public bidding.

During preliminary investigation, the governor said “it was only the Taliño Shell Station which was willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government.”

But the Ombudsman held “there was no compelling justification for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding.”

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