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Sandigan suspends Lapu-Lapu City mayor, 3 other Cebu execs

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has suspended Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza and three other officials of Cebu in connection with the graft charges filed against them for allegedly diverting P15 million in pork barrel funds intended for an anti-drug campaign.

In a resolution dated Oct. 21, the anti-graft court ordered the suspension of Radaza, Cebu council ex-officio board member Celestino Martinez and Bogo City councilors Rhett Minguez and Cresencio Verdida for 90 days.

Martinez is the son of former Cebu Rep. Clavel Martinez.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Roland Jurado, chairman of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division. Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta concurred with the ruling.

Graft charges have been filed against the respondents for the alleged misuse of P15 million in pork barrel allocation of former Rep. Martinez intended for the anti-drug campaign of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) Cebu City chapter.

The graft case, first investigated in 2004 in the Office of the Ombudsman’s Visayas office, focused on the role of the elder Martinez, who was president of the GSP Cebu chapter.

At that time, Martinez’s son was the mayor of Bogo municipality while Minguez was the treasurer. Verdida was then municipal accountant and Radaza was treasurer.

Based on the Commission on Audit report, the pork barrel funds were released in two tranches to the former mayor even if there was no memorandum of agreement between the local government of Bogo and the GSP.

The Sandiganbayan said that only P600,000 of the P15 million was given to the GSP Cebu chapter.

The Sandiganbayan directed Interior and Local Government Secretary Senen Sarmiento to implement the suspension order.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ROLAND JURADO ASSOCIATE JUSTICES ALEXANDER GESMUNDO AND MA CEBU CEBU CITY CEBU REP CELESTINO MARTINEZ AND BOGO CITY CLAVEL MARTINEZ GIRL SCOUTS OF THE PHILIPPINES INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECRETARY SENEN SARMIENTO LAPU-LAPU CITY MAYOR PAZ RADAZA SANDIGANBAYAN
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