Sandiganbayan suspends Iligan City mayor for 90 days
The Sandiganbayan has ordered the suspension of Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia for 90 days pending his trial for alleged usurpation of authority.
The court’s Seventh Division ordered Regencia’s suspension “from receipt of this resolution, unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed.”
In a 10-page minute resolution dated Feb. 14, the court cited Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which mandated the preventive suspension of officials facing valid charges of “any offense involving fraud upon the government or public funds.”
“It is well-settled that once a proper determination of the validity of the information has been made, it becomes the ministerial duty of the court to forthwith issue the order of preventive suspension,” read the resolution signed by Associate Justices Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta, Zaldy V. Trespeses and Bayani H. Jacinto.
The court also rejected Regencia’s argument that his suspension pendente lite (pending litigation) was premature based on the Local Government Code, pointing out that the antigraft act is a separate law.
The resolution stated Regencia “tests the patience of this court” by repeatedly invoking the Court of Appeals’ July 13, 2017 injunction on the Ombudsman’s March 29, 2017 order dismissing him from office for the administrative offense of grave misconduct.
The court again explained that the CA injunction did not affect the criminal proceedings in the Sandiganbayan because it arose from a separate Ombudsman order dated Dec. 6, 2016. —Vince F. Nonato
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