Sandigan orders suspension of Bataan mayor
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Limay, Bataan Mayor Nelson David in connection with his pending graft cases over the alleged overpricing of a lot purchased by the municipal government from his sons in 2002.

“Accused Nelson David is ordered to cease and desist from further performing and/or exercising the functions, duties and privileges of his position upon the implementation of this order of preventive suspension,” the resolution promulgated by the court’s Sixth Division on July 25 read, which directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the suspension order.

The court found no merit in David’s argument that there is no longer a need to suspend him as the possibility of him intimidate potential witnesses or tampering possible evidence was already remote.

David pointed out that the prosecution has rested its case and his defense team has started the initial presentation of evidence.

In its ruling, however, the Sixth Division maintained that the suspension of an incumbent public official facing criminal prosecution is mandatory regardless of the stage of the trial.

The Sixth Division cited Section 13 of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which states that an incumbent public official “shall be suspended from office” if he is charged with a valid case information of a crime under RA 3019 or under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or for any offense involving public funds or property or fraud against government.

David is facing two counts of violating RA 3019 before the Sixth Division.

The court noted that David was arraigned on Aug. 1, 2017 during which he entered a not guilty plea, thus, the case information against him was already deemed valid.

The Sixth Division said the validity of the cases was further affirmed when it denied David and his co-accused’s motion to dismiss the cases.

The Sixth Division had earlier placed David’s three co-accused – municipal assessor Jocelyn Linao, municipal treasurer Felicidad Cruz and municipal engineer Rolando Flores, under 90-day preventive suspension.

The cases stemmed from the alleged irregularities in the appraisal of a parcel of agricultural land owned by David’s sons Richie Jayson and Christian Ryan.
The ombudsman, which filed the cases in 2017, said Linao, Cruz and Flores, as members of the municipal appraisal committee “caused the extraordinary increase” in the market value of the lot owned by David’s sons by pegging it at P10,180,380.

The ombudsman said the respondents based their valuation on the market price of a residential land and not on agricultural/pasture land as indicated on the tax declaration of David’s sons.

The property was later on acquired by the municipality based on its overvalued appraisal, the ombudsman said.

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