Sandiganbayan accepts voluntary suspension of Maguindanao town mayor
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has accepted the voluntary 90-day preventive suspension over graft and malversation charges of the mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town in Maguindanao.
The Third Division in a resolution on January 24 accepted the motion to go on voluntary preventive suspension of Mayor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan.
Ampatuan’s motion for voluntary suspension, in connection to Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which allows the suspension of incumbent public officials facing charges to avoid interfering in the investigation.
Ampatuan’s graft and malversation cases stemmed from an anomalous purchase of agricultural products including of fertilizers, palay, and corn worth P98.24 million from Tamoni Enterprises in 2009, back when he was still Maguindanao governor.
“In his subject motion, accused-movant Ampatuan avers that he is willing to be preventively suspended from holding public office,” the resolution penned by division chair and Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said.
“During the hearing on the said motion on November 15, 2019, the prosecution manifested in open court that it is submitting the resolution of the same motion to the discretion of the Court,” the anti-graft court added.
Ampatuan earlier sought the dismissal of the case last May 2019, claiming the Office of the Ombudsman had violated his right to a speedy disposition of cases as it took more than three years for the case to be resolved.
However, the same division noted that the speedy disposition is a “flexible” concept, as a mere mathematical equation of the time would not prove inordinate delay. The anti-graft court also explained that the delay may have been brought by a change in leadership — from former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to incumbent Ombudsman Samuel Martires.
Ampatuan was also previously suspended for graft charges before the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division, this time over the alleged misuse of public funds worth P72.26 million in 2009.
A copy of the resolution has been sent by Sandiganbayan to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for implementation. DILG meanwhile is mandated to inform the anti-graft court of its actions five days after receipt of the order.
Edited by MUF
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