Camarines Sur mayor faces 90-day suspension pendente lite
06 November 2017
Mayor Tomas Bongalonta, Jr. of Pili, Camarines Sur is facing a 90-day suspension pendente lite after the Sandiganbayan sustained the motion filed by the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor.
In its Resolution, the Seventh Division of the Sandiganbayan underscored that Section 13 of the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) makes it mandatory for the court to suspend any public officer who has been arraigned under a valid Information. “Once the information is found to be sufficient in form and substance, then the Court must issue the order of suspension as a matter of course. There are no ifs and buts about it,” stated the court.
“The presumption is that unless the accused is suspended, he or she may frustrate the prosecution of the case, commit further acts of malfeasance, or do both,” added the Sandiganbayan.
Mayor Bongalonta is under trial for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019). It was uncovered during investigation that Bongalonta caused the dismissal of municipal employee Eileen Ceron when what has been imposed upon her by the Ombudsman is suspension from office only. “[T]he accused knew fully well that the penalty of dismissal from the service has no legal basis, thereby depriving Ceron not only her office but also the salaries and monetary benefits attached thereto amounting to P955,285.06,” the Information cited.
Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 provides that any incumbent public officer against whom any valid information under the Act or the Revised Penal Code, or for any offense involving fraud upon the government, or public funds or property, whether as simple or complex offense, and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. ###