Sandiganbayan suspends congressman over unliquidated funds
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered the 60-day suspension of South Cotabato First District Representative Pedro Acharon Jr, pending his graft trial for failure to liquidate P2.5 million in funds when he was still General Santos city mayor.
The Ombudsman said in a statement on Wedneday, February 24, that the Sandiganbayan granted its prosecutors’ motion for the preventive suspension of Acharon in a resolution dated January 28.
“The authority of this Court to order the preventive suspension of an incumbent public official has both legal and jurisprudential support,” the resolution read.
Acharon, who is seeking reelection for a third term, and 4 other General Santos City officials had been charged with violation of Section 3(e) the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
When he was still General Santos City mayor, Acharon failed to liquidate P2.5 million worth of funds spent for the June 2006 Tambayayong Festival in Los Angeles.
Acharon was arraigned in March 2014.
The Sandiganbayan ruled that there “is no merit in the argument of the accused that as Congressman of the First District of South Cotabato, he no longer approves or implements disbursement of public funds, as he used to do as former City Mayor of General Santos City in which capacity he was charged in this case, or that his constituents would be deprived of representation if he were to be suspended.”
“For as long as the accused occupies a public office, he can be suspended pendente lite” as “suspension follows the accused in whatever other government position which he/she may be holding at the time of suspension,” the court said.
The Sandiganbayan directed Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr to implement the suspension order. – Rappler.com