Sandiganbayan imposes 90-day suspension vs Eastern Samar town mayor
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has preventively suspended the mayor of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar for 90 days pending an investigation on a graft case filed against her.
In its resolution dated November 25, the Sixth Division denied Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan’s bid to overturn the ruling, as Section 13 of the Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act mandates the preventive suspension of incumbent officials.
That is, even if Gonzales-Kwan contended that the informations were filed prior to her election as Guiuan mayor. The accused is facing graft charges for the alleged anomalous purchase of firetrucks in 2007, that was reportedly conducted without public bidding.
State investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman claimed that Gonzales-Kwan and other local officials entered into a negotiated procurement in purchasing a firetruck worth P1.985 million without the necessary documents to prove that two previous biddings failed.
“First, accused Gonzales-Kwan is an incumbent public official. She admitted in her Compliance dated October 28, 2019 that she is the incumbent Municipal Mayor of Guinan, Eastern Samar,” the anti-graft court said.
“Second, the Information filed against accused Gonzales-Kwan is valid […] Accused Gonzales-Kwan was arraigned on August 3, 2018, during which she entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ to the charge in the said Information,” it added.
Under the court rules, an accused affirms the validity of Informations filed against him or her once any plea is entered.
“The issue on the validity of the Information had also been resolved with finality when the Court denied the Motion to Dismiss/Quash information’ dated November 7, 2017 on the ground of inordinate delay filed by accused Gonzales Kwan,” Sandiganbayan noted.
“Accused Gonzales-Kwan neither sought reconsideration of the said resolution nor filed a petition for certiorari. As far as the Court is concerned, there is no more question as to the validity of the Information,” they added.
With the order, Sandiganbayan was ordered to cease and desist from performing the functions of her post, while copies of the order have been sent to the Department of the Interior and Local Government for implementation.
Edited by JPV
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