Sandiganbayan stands firm on Maguindanao mayor’s suspension
MANILA, Philippines – Sandiganbayan has maintained that Shariff Saydona Mustapha town Mayor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan should be preventively suspended after junking the official’s motion for reconsideration.
According to the Sixth Division’s resolution last November 20, Ampatuan’s motion was denied because his claims — that he was not given the chance to take part in the preliminary investigation done by the Office of the Ombudsman — lacked merit.
The accused is facing a myriad of graft, malversation, and falsification raps for allegedly misusing P72.26 million funds in 2009, intended for the repair of school buildings. He was then Maguindanao’s provincial governor when he was accused of allocating the funds to four supposedly non-existent lumber companies.
The resolution, penned by division chair and Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez, said Ampatuan knew that the preliminary investigation stage was ongoing, because he was given a chance by the Office of the Ombudsman to file counter-affidavits — and actually submitted one.
“Accused Ampatuan’s claim that he was not given the opportunity to participate in the preliminary investigation appears to be nothing but an afterthought […] At any rate, an examination of the records would show that during the preliminary investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman afforded the respondents the opportunity to file their counter-affidavits,” the anti-graft court said.
“Moreover, the Consolidated Joint CoUnter-Affidavit dated October 2, 2014 appears to have been signed by accused Ampatuan. Clearly, he was given the opportunity to participate, and actually participated, in the preliminary investigation,” it added.
With this, the court asserted that the 90 day suspension period for Ampatuan should be implemented, which would start on the day the resolution was released.
Copies of the said resolution were sent to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for implementation, while the DILG Secretary is then required to inform the court of its actions 15 days from its receipt.
READ: Sandiganbayan preventively suspends Maguindanao mayor
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