Ex-budget exec appeals suspension on Ruffy Biazon case
Unlike Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, coaccused Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and his staffers have opted to appeal their 90-day suspension by the Sandiganbayan pending trial for the alleged misuse of the congressman’s pork barrel.
In a 10-page motion for reconsideration dated Nov. 3, Relampagos reiterated that they should not have been suspended because the evidence against them does not show they were guilty of graft and malversation.
“To suspend the accused from office, not to mention decent source of livelihood, for clearly unsupported charges frustrates the ends of justices,” read the motion filed with the antigraft court’s Seventh Division.
Staffers Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare also questioned their suspension by the Seventh Division.
The motion cited the Sandiganbayan First Division’s Aug. 28, 2014 resolution in the case of former Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., which quashed the charges against Relampagos and his staff for lack of probable cause.
Similar to the Revilla case, Relampagos argued that the Biazon case also involved a special allotment release order (Saro) that did not actually bear his signature.
The motion also argued that prosecutors have only presented the statement of pork scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy as evidence against them.
It quoted the First Division’s August 2014 resolution, which said that Luy’s statement that Saros were processed in Relampagos’ office could not be the sole basis to indict them.
Even the so-called “Benhur Luy Files” as published in a 13-part series in the Philippine Daily Inquirer from May 12 to 24, 2014 “did not mention the accused’s names at all,” the motion added.
Relampagos added that performing their ministerial duties to entertain follow-ups on requests “is certainly not a crime” that would warrant suspension.
The Seventh Division, in its Oct. 17 order, affirmed the validity of the graft and malversation charges.
The court cited Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act that mandated the suspension of public officials facing valid graft charges.
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