Ex-legislator accused in pork scam fights suspension as mayor
Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella has petitioned the Sandiganbayan to stay his suspension from office following his indictment for the alleged misuse of his pork barrel when he was a congressman.
In a seven-page motion, Puentevella dismissed as “fatally defective” the complaint filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the allegedly anomalous procurement of computers worth P26 million using his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, during his term as Bacolod representative in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
Puentevella also told the antigraft court’s Fourth Division that the grounds for preventive suspension as stated in Republic Act No. 3019, or the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act, were not applicable to his case because the project was implemented when he was a congressman and it had nothing to do with his current position as mayor.
In addition, he said, he had a pending petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court to nullify his indictment for graft.
Puentevella argued that “the possibility of using his position… to exert influence or undue pressure on the witnesses against him did not exist… because the prosecution’s supposed witnesses were neither under the control, supervision, jurisdiction nor authority of the mayor’s office of Bacolod City,” Puentevella said in his July 16 motion.
He said the evidence against him was “neither in the custody, possession nor control” of his office and the prosecution had “deemed to have already investigated this case and is already in possession of all the evidence.”
The reasons for the preventive suspension of government officials “no longer (apply) to a public officer who is already occupying a different position,” he said.
“Therefore, with the raison d’etre of the law being absent, Section 13 of RA 3019 cannot and should not be applied to (me),” Puentevella said.
According to the mayor, he had filed his petition in the high court even before the Ombudsman lodged the graft case against him in the Sandiganbayan.
In that petition, Puentevella argued that the Ombudsman violated his right to due process and speedy resolution of cases since it took more than six years before the Ombudsman resolved the graft complaint against him.
“Such inordinate delay in resolving the case against (me) could hardly be considered as reasonable and justifiable,” he said.
He said the evidence against him was “not strong because the prosecution charges him as a co-conspirator but without any clear evidence of conspiracy.”
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