By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has ordered the 90-day suspension pendente lite of Ronda City Municipal Engineer Oscar M. Pilapil of Cebu in light of the pending graft charges he is facing.
Pilapil is facing 15 counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The charges stemmed from his failure to post the invitations for bidding on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) from 2012 to 2013.
According to the Ombudsman, Pilapil and his co-accused specifically failed to post invitations to bid for 15 projects involving the construction of the CL School Building at Madanglog Elementary School, medicines, materials for maintenance of public buildings, and materials for the completion of the Butong Health center.
They also failed to post the invitation to bid for the construction of the Langin Barangay Hall and emergency access road along Poblacion and Planas-Oval-Poblacion roads, electric supplies, materials for the construction of Butong Day Care Center and the legislative building.
The anti-graft court directed Pilapil to show cause on July 24 why he should not be suspended pendente lite in accordance with Section 13 of R.A. 3019, which states that “any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this act…shall be suspended from office.”
Pilapil filed his manifestation and compliance on August 5. He said that he was no longer the Chairman for the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the municipality, as charged in the Information.
As a result, he was no longer connected to the previous and could no longer intimidate or influence witnesses or affect the outcome of the case. He likewise said that he had no power or means to frustrate the prosecution of the case.
In its ruling, the court said that his arguments were of “no moment.”
“The fact that accused Pilapil is currently holding a public position different from the position for which he was charged in the Information does not exempt him from the application of the law,” the resolution said.
The court added that it has “neither discretion nor duty to determine whether or not a preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution.”
The resolution, dated September 3, was written by Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Kevin Narce Vivero.