Biazon welcomes suspension for alleged pork barrel scam
Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano “Ruffy” Biazon on Friday welcomed his preventive suspension by the Sandiganbayan as he faces malversation, graft and direct bribery charges for the pork barrel scam.
In a statement, Biazon said he has never opposed the prosecution’s motion to suspend him pendente lite.
He said he was even willing to serve his suspension beginning Oct 10, only to be given the chance to defend the defense budget in Congress as sponsor.
“I did not object to the motion by the prosecution. In fact, I even requested that the preventive suspension begin on October 10 but the court only issued the order on October 17,” Biazon said.
The congressman said he has always been willing to submit himself to the legal process, clarifying that his welcoming his suspension is not an indication of guilt.
“As I have said before, I submit myself to the legal processes and the preventive suspension is mandatory in accordance with law,” Biazon said.
“It is not a penalty nor is it an indication of guilt. It merely ensures that the evidence and witnesses are not tampered or influenced, something that I have no intention of doing whatsoever,” he added.
Biazon said his suspension was only par for the course, and that he has confidence in the judicial system.
“The court itself said it is just ministerial on their part to grant the motion. Again, I emphasize that I have faith in the judicial system and I have confidence in my defense of my innocence,” Biazon said.
It remains to be seen however if the House leadership would implement Biazon’s suspension order.
The court earlier suspended two other congressmen for graft—Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino Jr. and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte—but the lower House maintained its stance not to implement the suspension order as it stood pat on its power to discipline its own members.
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division suspended Biazon for 90 days as he faces multiple charges of malversation, graft and direct bribery over the alleged pork barrel scam.
In a resolution promulgated on Oct. 17, the antigraft court granted the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s motion to suspend Biazon, pending litigation, for his alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Biazon was arraigned on Sept. 6 and pleaded not guilty to pork barrel scam charges.
The prosecution said Biazon’s stay in office may hinder the prosecution of the alleged offense because he may use his position to tamper with evidence or intimidate witnesses.
The court also granted the preventive suspension of Biazon’s coaccused dismissed Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, and his staff Marilou Bare, Rosario Nunez and Lalaine Paule, although they have already been dismissed from service.
Biazon faces one count each of malversation, graft and direct bribery for his alleged criminal activities as Muntinlupa representative in 2007 in connection with the scheme run by alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Biazon, an ally of former President Benigno Aquino III in the Liberal Party, resigned as Customs commissioner in 2013 after the Department of Justice included him in the pork barrel scam complaint.
Charged with Biazon was his alleged agent, former Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Ducut, also a former Pampanga representative, who supposedly acted as an agent for Napoles in the House of Representatives.
Ducut was said to have toured Napoles in the House of Representatives, according to whistle-blower Merlina Suñas.
According to the malversation charge, Biazon with Ducut “willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously appropriate, take, misappropriate, and or allow Napoles to take public funds” worth P2.7 million.
Biazon allegedly misappropriated P3 million of his PDAF to Napoles’ bogus foundation, Philippine Social Development Foundation (PSDFI), which used his pork barrel funds intended for livelihood projects for the barangays (villages) of Muntinlupa.
Biazon and his respondents were also charged with violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to government in coursing his pork barrel funds to the spurious foundation without public bidding, committing evident bad faith, manifest partiality, and gross inexcusable negligence.
The project using Biazon’s PDAF turned out to be nonexistent.
Biazon was also charged with direct bribery for allegedly receiving P1.95 million from Napoles in exchange for his endorsement of her nongovernment organization to receive his pork barrel funds. IDL/rga