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Martinez takes oath, unfazed by graft case

/ 12:49 PM December 20, 2013

Former Bogo city mayor Celestino “Tining” Martinez III yesterday took his oath before Gov. Hilario Davide III as president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Cebu province.

Martinez said he has started discussing the league’s projects with former ABC president Jose Ribomapil Holganza Jr. so he can propose his own.

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Since Martinez’s graft case is still pending in the Sandiganbayan with no final verdict, there’s no obstacle to his assuming the post and taking his seat in the Cebu Provincial Board, said Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol.

“If there is a pending case or an appeal, you cannot disqualify a public official from holding office. In this case (Martinez) can take his seat in the board,” said Apostol in an interview.

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“He can continue to function if he is put in jail.”

At the Capitol, Martinez, who is barangay captain of Cayang in Bogo city, said the Sandiganbayan case would not distract him from his duties.

“That’s a different thing, a separate issue. It has nothing to do with the league,” he told reporters.

“Maybe only time would tell what the resolution of the case would be.”  Martinez ran unopposed for the ABC presidency.

He and his father Celestino, mayor of Bogo city, are stalwarts of the administration’s Liberal Party.

Last August, arrest warrants were issued by the Sandiganbayan against Martinez, his mother Clavel, sister Cielo and other respondents impleaded in a case of malversation of P11.5 million in funds donated to the Girl Scouts of the Philippines ten years ago.

Clavel was then president of the GSP Cebu council. Investigators said the donation was diverted to her personal bank account and later withdrawn by her daughter, Cielo, the GSP Cebu council treasurer. The Martinezes said the money was later returned to the government and denied any wrongdoing in the transaction.

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They all posted bail after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) searched for them at their residences in Bogo City and Cebu City.
Bogo municipal treasurer Rhett Minguez was included in the case.

The Sandiganbayan suspended the arrest warrants after a motion to dismiss was filed.

Martinez said the motion for reconsideration he filed is still pending before the Sandiganbayan.

“Actually, the case is still being discussed in court. Probably next year or anytime soon,” he said.

Asked about the whereabouts of his mother Clavel, Martinez replied, “Maybe she is still in Bogo.”

Pelagio Apostol, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas, said Martinez can still assume office since there is no final ruling against him.

“He (Tining) can function as ABC president even if he lands in jail,” he said. With Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol

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TAGS: Graft and Corruption, Local authorities, Politics
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