By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has ordered the 90-day suspension pendente lite of several provincial officials from Aurora because of their pending graft charge involving the reportedly anomalous repair of the Dimalang Bridge Approach of the Casiguran-Dilasag Provincial Road and the Road Section of the Casiguran-Dilasag Provincial Road.
Provincial Administrator Simeon De Castro, Provincial General Services Officer Ricardo Bautista, and Assistant Provincial Engineer Benedicto Rojo have been ordered to immediately cease and desist from performing the functions of their respective offices upon the implementation of their preventive suspension.
Provincial Budget Officer Norma Clemente, who is also a co-accused in the case, has already retired and is no longer in government service so the suspension order can no longer apply to her.
The suspended officials are included in the graft case faced by Aurora Governor Gerardo Noveras. They were charged for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in relation to R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
From March to September 2014, they were accused of conspiring with one another and giving undue advantage to private individual Manding Claro Ramos of RMCR Construction.
They awarded the contract for the repair of the roads to RMCR Construction even though there was no public bidding conducted for it.
The anti-graft court said in its resolution dated October 22 that suspension under Section 13 of R.A. 3019 is mandatory. It applies to “any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information… is pending in court.” It added that it is “duty-bound” to issue the suspension order.
The resolution, however, included Executive Assistant IV Isaias Noveras Jr.’s name in the list of suspended officials. The Sixth Division even made the mistake of naming him as the governor of Aurora.
The five-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero with the concurrence of Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda.