Sandiganbayan rules to stay North Cotabato gov’s suspension

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has ruled that there is no basis for it to reverse the 90-day preventive suspension order against North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco due to her pending charges involving the fertilizer fund scam case.

North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco (Gov. Nancy Catamco FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco (Gov. Nancy Catamco FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a resolution dated July 4, the anti-graft court directed that Catamco be suspended under the provisions of Section 13 of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The said law states that “any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this act…shall be suspended from office.”

Catamco, who was formerly the lawmaker for the 2nd District of North Cotabato, was accused of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code due to the reportedly anomalous purchase of P5 million worth of liquid fertilizers back in 2004. She is facing the charges with former Poro Mayor Edgar Gadingan Rama of Cebu.

Catamco stated in her motion for reconsideration that preventive suspension is mandatory only for public officers who committed the offense charged while in office, but not for those charged in their personal capacity.

Since she was charged in her personal capacity, she argued that she can never be subject of any counterpart administrative proceeding, nor can she be covered by Section 13 of R.A. 3019.

However, the anti-graft court begged otherwise. “Section 13 of R.A. 3019 is clear and unequivocal when it states that any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information…is pending in court shall be suspended from office,” the resolution stated.

“It did not require nor mention that the incumbent public officer must have been in the government service at the time of the commission of the offense or at the time of filing of the Information,” it added.

The seven-page resolution was written by Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Kevin Narce Vivero.

Back in May 2004, the accused local officials reportedly gave undue advantage to Catamco’s company, Perzebros Company, when they procured 3,333 bottles of Vitacrop liquid organic fertilizers prized at P1,500 per bottle without public bidding and recommendation from the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

Rama reportedly acted on the basis of Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 2004-34 authorizing him to directly contract with Perzebros Company and approve the payment of P5 million.

However, the said fertilizers – which were bought as part of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Regional Field Office VII Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program (FIFIP) – were found overpriced by the Commission on Audit (COA) by at least P1,092 per bottle, or a total amount of P4,580,375.25.

 
CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP
 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

["news"]
[2147496,2814292,2534630,2485825,2408462,2358243,2358052,2344118,2339143,2047660,1998697,996820,995332,995948,995006,994327,994303,993947,993860,993770,993529,993383,993285,798318,2918865,2918869,2918858,2918857,2918856,2918855]