Bacolod mayor 'staying put' despite suspension

BACOLOD City Mayor Monico Puentevella is determined to continue serving his constituents despite the 90-day preventive suspension issued against him by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division Monday.

City Administrator Rolando Villamor said in a press conference Tuesday that they will file a motion for reconsideration before the Sandiganbayan and file a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court with prayer for the issuance of a restraining order.

Villamor said they have not yet received an official copy of the order, but they already took the initiative to get an initial copy so that they can prepare their appeal and pursue other legal moves.

Aside from Villamor, Puentevella is also represented by counsels Ralph Sarmiento, Rayfrando Diaz II, and Redemptor Peig.

“We will not wait that our moves will become moot and academic,” he said.

Puentevella was ordered “suspended from his present position as mayor or from any other government position he may now or afterwards hold for a period of 90 days, effective immediately upon receipt and implementation of this resolution.”

“Accused public officer is directed to cease and desist from exercising the functions and privileges of his office for 90 days immediately upon receipt of this resolution,” the decision added.

The Sandiganbayan ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement the preventive suspension against Puentevella.

The DILG was also directed to inform the court of the start and the end of the mayor’s suspension.

City DILG Officer Cherryl Tacda said she has not yet received an official order from the Sandiganbayan.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Greg Gasataya called on the people of Bacolod to show their cooperation and exercise political maturity regarding the order to suspend the mayor.

"I respect the city mayor and his family in this time of great challenge. I know the legal team of Mayor Puentevella will exhaust all legal means to protect the rights of the mayor,” he said.

Gasataya added: “But whatever is the outcome of the process, I will respect it. I assure everyone that there will be no disruption in the delivery of basic services and normalcy in government service and functions. I enjoin everyone to pray for our city, its people, and leaders to give us wisdom and courage to do our respective tasks.”

Lawyer Joselito Bayatan, nominal complainant in the graft case against Puentevella, said “the suspension order is immediately executory as can be clearly read from the resolution of Sandiganbayan.”

“This is consistent with the rules on suspension against offending public official like Mayor Puentevella especially when applying suppletorily the rule of suspension of the Ombudsman,” the lawyer added.

Bayatan also said that if Puentevella intends to file a motion for reconsideration, “it would only confirm the immediate executory character of the court order.”

Sarmiento earlier said that his client’s 90-day suspension order is not final and executory.

“There is still a long way to go because a suspension order, if one was indeed already issued, is not yet immediately final and executory. Mayor Monico can still file a motion for reconsideration, and even bring the matter to the Supreme Court should (this) be denied by the Sandiganbayan," he added. (Sun.Star Bacolod)

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