THE Philippine anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered the 60-day suspension of a member of the House of Representative who is being tried for graft.
South Cotabato 1st district Representative Pedro Acharon, Jr.was ordered suspended from performing his lawmaking duties following a motion filed by government prosecutors.
Acharon and four other local officials from General Santos City were charged by the Office of the Ombudsman with violation of Section 3(e) of the Philippine Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the alleged anomalous utilization of
P2.5 million (US$ 54,347 in today’s exchange rate of P46 to US$1) worth of public funds in their 2006 travel to California, USA.
Records showed that in a resolution issued last month, the Sandiganbayan granted the Ombudsman’s motion seeking Acharon’s preventive suspension. The prosecutors noted in their motion that “the authority of this Court (Sandiganbayan) to order the preventive suspension of an incumbent public official has both legal and jurisprudential support.”
Brushing aside Acharon’s opposition, the Sandiganbayan said “[there] is no merit [too] in the argument of the accused that as Congressman of the First District of South Cotabato, he no longer approves or implements disbursement of public funds, as he used to do as former City Mayor of General Santos City in which capacity he was charged in this case, or that his constituents would be deprived of representation if he were to be suspended.”
“For as long as the accused occupies a public office, he can be suspended pendente lite (pending the litigation)” as “suspension follows the accused in whatever other government position which he/she may be holding at the time of suspension,” the court explained.
At the same time, the Sandiganbayan directed House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to immediately implement the suspension order.
The case against Acharon, who was arraigned in March 2014, was raffled before 2nd Division of the Sandiganbayan.