The Sandiganbayan has ordered the suspension of five Panglao municipal employees for 90 days in connection with an alleged anomalous purchase of a sports utility vehicle (SUV) in 2008.
A statement issued Monday by the Ombudsman indicated that the anti-graft court suspended municipal budget officer Catalino Sumaylo, municipal engineer Rogelio Bonao, municipal treasurer Rena Guivencan, administrative assistant Dionisia Estopito and administrative Aide Rene Lustre.
However, the 90-day suspension was not meted out as penalty, the Ombudsman clarified.
The Sandiganbayan granted the Ombudsman’s motion for suspension against the accused pending litigation (pendent lite).
Suspension was ordered “to prevent the hampering of the prosecution by intimidating or influencing witnesses, tampering with documentary evidence, or committing further acts of malfeasance.”
The five officials together with main co-accused former Panglao Mayor Benedicto Alcala are now facing trial for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, before the Sandiganbayan.
Based on documents gathered by the Ombudsman’s prosecution team, Alcala and the five officials, acting as members of the bids and awards committee, approved the purchase of a Kia Sorento in January 2008 worth P1.46 million “thru Direct Contracting without just and lawful basis.”
“The procurement of the vehicle from its Development Fund was not considered as an allowable expense under the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Budget and Management Joint Circular No. 01 Series of 2005,” the Ombudsman said. (R. Tutas)