North Cotabato gov to serve suspension for graft—lawyer | Inquirer News

North Cotabato gov to serve suspension for graft—lawyer

/ 11:15 AM October 28, 2016
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza. PHOTO FROM www.cotabatoprov.gov.ph

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

North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza on Friday said she would voluntarily serve her preventive suspension as she faces a graft charge for the allegedly anomalous procurement of diesel purchased from her mother’s gas station.

In a statement, Atty. Vincent Paul Montejo said his client received the suspension order on Thursday and decided to voluntarily serve her suspension.

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“While Gov. Mendoza maintains that the charges of graft filed against her have no basis, in deference to the Sandiganbayan, she has chosen to voluntarily serve out her suspension,” Montejo said.

This after the anti-graft court First Division in a resolution promulgated Tuesday granted the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s motion to suspend pendente lite Mendoza, the governor who figured in the violent dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan city last April that killed three farmers.

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READ: North Cotabato gov Mendoza suspended for graft 

The court said the graft information against Mendoza was valid and she had been arraigned when she pleaded not guilty to the charge,  thus her suspension for graft was in order.

The court said Mendoza’s suspension was mandatory in compliance with 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 preventively suspended from office.

The court ordered the Interior and Local Government Secretary to implement the order.

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

The prosecution moved for her suspension for fear Mendoza might use her position to frustrate her prosecution, tamper with evidence and intimidate witnesses.

READ: Prosecutors seeks suspension of North Cotabato gov over graft rap

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In her opposition, Mendoza countered that her suspension from office would not serve the purpose given the factual circumstances of the case, and that she had not committed the criminal offense of graft. She however requested that she be not suspended for more than 90 days.

Mendoza stands accused of graft after authorizing 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 for a two-day road rehabilitation projects.

READ: North Cotabato gov Mendoza faces graft rap

No public bidding was conducted, and instead the provincial government directly contracted for fuel with the gas station owned by Mendoza’s mother, the Ombudsman prosecutors alleged.

Mendoza said it was only the Taliño Shell 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, was proof that the fuel-purchase transaction was illegal and that this transaction was 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 Taliño Gas Station owned by her mother 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.

Governor Mendoza 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 protesters, killing at least three farmers, one of whom was shot at close range while raising his hands, and injuring 116 others. The farmers were protesting for rice amid the drought season.

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

READ: Kidapawan rally dispersal: Raps readied vs gov, PNP exec 

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TAGS: Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, Graft, North Cotabato, Sandiganbayan, suspension
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