Ronnie Ricketts suspended as OMB chair pending graft trial
The Sandiganbayan has put under preventive suspension Optical Media Board (OMB) chair Ronnie Ricketts as he faces graft trial over the alleged pull-out of evidence against counterfeiters in 2010.
In a resolution promulgated last Wednesday, the anti-graft court Fourth Division said it granted the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s motion to suspend pendente lite the former actor and three of his co-accused as they face graft trial.
The anti-graft court said it is only “mandatory” under the law to issue a suspension order “upon proper determination of the validity of the (graft) information).
READ: Ronnie Ricketts charged with graft over seized pirated discs
Furthermore, the court said by suspending the officials in the graft case, it does not seek to penalize the accused.
It added that it is not for the court to ascertain the prosecution’s claim that the accused may use his position to frustrate his prosecution by intimidating witnesses.
“The Court has no discretion neither can it ascertain or calculate whether the accused is capable of committing the acts sought to be prevented by the suspension,” the court said.
“More to the point, the court has neither the discretion nor duty to determine whether preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office,” the court added.
READ: OMB chair Ronnie Ricketts pleads not guilty to graft
The court then directed the Office of the President, which oversees the OMB, to implement the 90-day preventive suspension order.
“In the meantime, accused Ronaldo Naldo Ricketts, Manuel J. Mangubat, Joseph Dineros Arnaldo and Glenn Sarming Perez are directed to cease and desist from exercising the functions and privileges of their office for nine days immediately upon receipt of this resolution,” the court said in a resolution penned by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez.
Mangubat is the incumbent head of the OMB Enforcement and Inspection Division. Meanwhile, Arnaldo and Perez are his investigation agent I and computer operator II, respectively.
Rickets and the three others face a graft charge for allegedly ordering the pull-out of 121 boxes of DVDs from the OMB office which would have served as evidence against counterfeiters in 2010.
READ: Sandigan finds probable cause to try Ronnie Ricketts for graft
The said items which were seized in Quiapo last May 2010 were supposedly delivered to the OMB office, then reloaded later in the evening onto a vehicle owned by Sky High Marketing Corp. even without a gate pass.
Ombudsman prosecutors said Ricketts should be held liable because the seizure of items prevented the filing of appropriate charges against the supposed counterfeiters. The Ombudsman accused Ricketts of graft for giving undue advantage to Sky High.
The prosecution intends to present as witnesses investigators from the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office, as well as two security guards at the OMB building who were on duty when the alleged pull-out took place.
The prosecution also intends to present as evidence certification from the police and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) that the DVDs and VCDs confiscated from Sky High were among those destroyed at the Philippine National Police headquarters during the IPOPHL’s June 2010 anniversary.
READ: Ricketts asks Sandigan to quash graft case, puts blame on deputy
Meanwhile, Ricketts himself intends to become a witness and show his phone records to prove that he did not give the go-signal to co-accused Glenn Perez, the computer operator who allegedly supervised the pull-out of 121 boxes of DVDs from the OMB office.
Ricketts also blamed his deputy and co-accused Executive Director Cyrus Paul Valenzuela for knowing about the incident and failing to stop it from happening. RAM
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