Court defers arrest of North Cotabato gov Mendoza
The Sandiganbayan First Division on Thursday deferred the issuance of a warrant of arrest against North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza in connection with her graft case involving the alleged anomalous procurement of fuel from her mother’s gasoline station.
In a court hearing, division chair Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz received the Mendoza camp’s motion for the court to judicially determine probable cause, taking back its indictment against Mendoza to hold her on trial.
Mendoza’s lawyer Thea Daep said she had not received a copy of the court’s ruling finding probable cause against Mendoza.
Dela Cruz gave the prosecution 10 days to comment on Mendoza’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause. Mendoza’s camp was given five days to reply thereafter.
This means the court took back its resolution released Tuesday finding probable cause against Mendoza that gave way to the issuance of an arrest warrant.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales earlier found probable cause to charge Mendoza on three counts of graft or violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Ombudsman said Mendoza authorized the release of P2.4 million from the provincial funds to pay for 49,526.72 liters of fuel used for one road grader and four dump trucks utilized during the two-day road rehabilitation projects.
But no public bidding was conducted and, instead, the provincial government directly contracted for fuel with a gas station owned by Mendoza’s mother.
Mendoza also received the brunt of criticisms with the local government’s response to the demonstration of farmer protesters in Kidapawan City that resulted in a bloody dispersal by the police on April 1.
She received flak on social media for her sentiments in criticizing politicians who were donating sacks of rice to the farmer protesters and who were using North Cotabato as a political “staging ground.”
The police on April 1 fired at the farmer protesters, killing three farmers–one of whom was shot in close range with his hands raised–and injuring hundreds of others.
The police fought back with bullets after protesters threw rocks and blocked the highway to demand rice subsidy and assistance from government.
The violent dispersal raised a flurry of criticisms from netizens against Mendoza for saying the local government was not remiss in providing rice subsidy to farmers.
During the Senate fact-finding hearing in Davao city, Mendoza denied ordering the violent dispersal of farmers, with senators claiming the law does not allow the police to be armed during rally dispersals. JE/rga
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