Lawyer dismisses mayor’s suspension talks

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Friday, January 24, 2014


BACOLOD City Administrator Rolando Villamor, who is also part of the legal team of Mayor Monico Puentevella, dismissed the supposed claims of former city legal officer Joselito Bayatan that a suspension order against the mayor is forthcoming.

Villamor was reacting to Bayatan’s radio interview where he said that the mayor will be suspended “anytime this week” or “anytime soon” since the Office of the Ombudsman already denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Puentevella’s legal team related to the alleged overpriced Information Technology packages.

After the case information is filed before the Sandiganbayan, a suspension would follow, Bayatan also said. Villamor said a suspension order is far-fetched as there are still legal procedures that needed to be undertaken.

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“Yes, they are right that the motion for reconsideration was denied but the allegations that Mayor Monico will be suspended today or next week is false and too much,” he said.

Villamor said that although their motion for reconsideration was denied by the Ombudsman, a Supreme Court ruling prevents automatic suspension for the accused as stated in the Segovia vs Sandigan Bayan (288 SCRA) 1998.

He pointed out that the SC ruling states that while the suspension of a public officer is mandatory, its imposition is not automatic or self-operating.

Before a preventive suspension can be imposed, it must be determined that the accused public officer was indicted under a valid information at a pre-suspension hearing, he added.

Villamor explained that the purpose of the pre-suspension hearing is basically to determine the validity of the information and to furnish the court with a basis to either suspend the accused and proceed with the trial of the case or correct any part of the proceedings that impairs its validity.

He also said that upon the instructions of Puentevella, he is revealing to the media that they had changed strategy in proving the innocence of the mayor as such they will no longer seek a motion for certiorari before the Supreme Court as earlier planned.

Puentevella, he said, wants them to directly face the case before the Sandiganbayan and all other proceedings as he maintains his innocence over the allegations that he took part in the alleged overpriced purchase of the IT packages.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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