By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Office of the Special Prosecutor has filed a motion to withdraw its earlier motion to suspend pedente lite against Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. pending his graft charge.
Floirendo has been charged with a violation of Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to his involvement in the joint venture agreement between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Tagum Agricultural Development Company (TADECO) back in 2003.
Floirendo, who was serving as the Representative of the 2nd District of Davao Del Norte from 2001 to 2004, owned most of TADECO’s shares of stocks. He had 75,000 shares of TADECO, or equivalent to 89 percent of its outstanding capital stock at the time of the 2003 agreement.
This was a violation of Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019, since local officials are prohibited from having financial or pecuniary interest “in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity.”
The prosecution filed a motion to suspend Floirendo pedente lite back on June 11 “aimed not merely to prevent the accused from intimidating witnesses or otherwise hamper the prosecution of the case, but also to prevent him from committing further acts of malfeasance in office.”
“While the accused’s suspension pedente lite may deprive the people of the 2nd District of Davao Del Norte of the services of an official elected by them, it is respectfully submitted that the same is not a sufficient basis for the Honorable Court not to apply an otherwise mandatory provision of law,” the motion read.
However, since newly-appointed Ombudsman Samuel Martires issued a memorandum directing all prosecutors to stop filing motions to suspend pedente lite of accused public officials before the Sandiganbayan and other lower courts, the prosecution decided to take back its earlier motion.
“The plaintiff respectfully begs the kind indulgence of the Honorable Court, and moves for the withdrawal of the motion to suspend pedente lite filed against accused Floirendo,” the motion read.
In a memorandum dated August 28 titled “Suspension Pedente Lite of Accused Public Officials,” Martires said that prosecutors “shall no longer be required to file motions to suspend the accused pedente lite before the Sandiganbayan or the lower courts.”
Even those motions to suspend that have earlier been filed before the issuance of the memorandum, but which remain unsolved by the trial courts, are ordered withdrawn.
“Where the ruling in the motion for suspension pedente lite have been appealed, the handling prosecutor shall withdraw the motion and accordingly inform the appellate court that the motion has been withdrawn,” the memorandum read.
Martires highlighted the declarations of the Supreme Court in Luciano v. Mariano (G.R. No. L-30306, 20 June 1969) in his memorandum, which states that “by Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, solely the court in which the criminal case has been filed shall wield the power of suspension.”
He also invoked Flores v. Layosa (G.R. No. 154714, 12 August 2004) which states that “Section 13 of. R.A. No. 3019, as worded, allows the court to issue the suspension order motu propio.”
Motu propio is Latin for “on his own impulse.” It is described as an official act taken without a formal request from another party.