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Negros mayor suspended for graft

Oscar Montilla Jr.’s suspension is mandatory in connection with the graft charges he is facing for defying the order of the Office of the Ombudsman to suspend five city officials in 2008, the anti-graft court said in a resolution released on Monday.

BACOLOD CITY  , Philippines  — The Sandiganbayan has suspended the mayor of Sipalay, Negros Occidental for 90 days.

Oscar Montilla Jr.’s suspension is mandatory in connection with the graft charges he is facing for defying the order of the Office of the Ombudsman to suspend five city officials in 2008, the anti-graft court said in a resolution released on Monday.

“The rule on the matter is specific and categorical, leaving no room for interpretation. There are no ifs and buts about it,” the resolution penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz read.

Vice Mayor Maria Gina Montilla-Lizares, younger sister of Montilla, assumed the post as acting mayor. Councilor Ralph Alvarez is acting vice mayor.

 In filing the complaint, the ombudsman said Montilla delayed the suspension of city accountant Eva Sabusap, former budget officer now administrator Fernando Balbin, health officer Noel Villanueva, treasurer Renato Manilla and revenue collection officer Evangeline Señeres for negligence in the performance of official duties.

The officials had been charged with graft over their alleged involvement in the anomalous purchase of medicine and medical supplies worth P784,981.75 in 2001. Graft probers said the procurement was overpriced by 600 percent.

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The ombudsman said Montilla “gave unwarranted benefit and advantage” to the officials…without legal basis despite repeated directives from the Ombudsman-Visayas.”

Meanwhile, Francisco Nazareno, former mayor of Moises Padilla town, was charged with two counts each of graft and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for alleged violations in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth from 2007 to 2010.

Nazareno did not disclose ownership of J.F Merchandise, which is registered under his name, and Juco Enterprises under his wife’s name, the court said.

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