THE Sandiganbayan ordered Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia to cease and desist from performing his duties as a mayor for 90 days pending his trial for alleged usurpation of authority.
As posted on the website of the Office of the Ombudsman, the court ordered the suspension of the official for 90 days from receipt of the order, unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed.
Regencia was charged for usurpation of authority under the Revised Penal Code upon finding probable cause that he illegally performed the functions of a mayor while being detained for a criminal offense.
In a 10-page minute resolution dated February 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."
The court's seventh division issued the suspension pendente lite, citing the mandatory character of the suspension once he is arraigned under valid information and ministerial function of the court to order the preventive suspension.
Sandiganbayan also rejected the argument of the accused that his suspension pendente lite (pending litigation) was premature based on the Local Government Code, pointing out that the anti-graft act is a separate law.
According to the resolution, Regencia tests the patience of the court by repeatedly invoking the Court of Appeals' July 13, 2017 injunction on Ombudsman's March 29, 2017 order dismissing from the service for administrative offense.