Prosecutors seeks suspension of North Cotabato gov over graft rap | Inquirer News

Prosecutors seeks suspension of North Cotabato gov over graft rap

/ 12:30 PM September 26, 2016
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza. PHOTO FROM www.cotabatoprov.gov.ph

North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza. PHOTO FROM www.cotabatoprov.gov.ph

State prosecutors asked the anti-graft court to suspend North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza as she faces a graft charge for the anomalous procurement of diesel purchased from her mother’s gas station.

In a motion filed before the Sandiganbayan First Division, the Office of the Special Prosecutor said Mendoza should be suspended from her duties as governor because she might intimidate witnesses to derail her prosecution.

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“Since the accused is still in office, there is a possibility that she might intimidate witnesses and hamper her prosecution. Thus, her suspension pendente lite is in order,” the prosecutors said.

READ: Court finds probable cause to try N. Cotabato gov Mendoza for graft

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The prosecutors cited Section 13 of the Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which states that an incumbent public officer facing a valid information of graft or violation of Revised Penal Code involving fraud of public funds should be suspended from office.

The prosecutors said the graft charge became valid after Mendoza pleaded not guilty during her arraignment on July 28.

“With the arraignment of the accused, the validity of the information filed against her is no longer in question, and her suspension must follow as a matter of course,” the prosecutors said.

READ: North Cotabato gov Mendoza posts bail for graft raps 

In her statement indicting Mendoza, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales 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.

READ: North Cotabato gov Mendoza faces graft rap

But no public bidding was conducted, and instead the provincial government directly contracted for fuel with the Taliño Shell Station owned by her mother.

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Mendoza said it was the only gas station which was “willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government.”

But Morales said “there was no compelling justification for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding.”

The Ombudsman said “the great disparity between the estimated 552 liters of diesel actually consumed for the two-day road maintenance project in Magpet vis-à-vis the 20,833 liters actually paid for, is proof that the fuel-purchase transaction is illegal and that this transaction is obviously a scheme to pocket government funds.”

READ: Sandigan orders arrest of N. Cotabato gov Mendoza

Mendoza denied that she handpicked Taliño Shell Gas Station in the purchase of diesel fuel instead of conducting a public bidding.

She added that the said gas station actually offered the most advantageous offer because of the lowest price. It was also the nearest gas station in the area.

Mendoza maintained that she approved the resolution of the Bids and Awards Committee to grant the contract to Taliño Gas Station in good faith because there were no red flags in the transaction.

The governor earlier received flak on social media for her sentiments over the bloody Kidapawan farmers’ dispersal, when she criticized politicians who were donating sacks of rice to the farmer protesters and using North Cotabato as a political “staging ground.”

The police on April 1 fired at the farmer protesters, killing at least three farmers, one of whom was shot at close range while raising his hands, and injuring 116 others.

During the Senate fact-finding hearing in Davao City, Mendoza denied ordering the violent dispersal of the farmers, with senators claiming the law does not allow the police to be armed during rally dispersals. RAM/rga

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TAGS: graft charge, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, suspension
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