Sandiganbayan suspends Pangasinan exec over MRT graft case
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered the preventive suspension of a Pangasinan official for graft charges filed against him as a private individual.
In a resolution released on January 18, the Sandiganbayan's Third Division ordered the suspension of Arturo Soriano, the provincial accountant of Pangasinan, for 90 days.
Soriano is a co-accused in the graft case against former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) chief Al Vitangcol III over an alleged anomalous maintenance deal in 2012. Soriano is Vitangcol's uncle-in-law.
The court said in its resolution that although Soriano was charged in a private capacity, "it does not render him immune from the application of Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act."
Soriano is an incorporator of PH Trams which won an MRT3 interim maintenance contract in 2012.
Soriano, Vitangcol, and 4 other PH Trams executives were charged with graft after state investigators found that the contract was awarded without public bidding and even if PH Trams was not qualified under the procurement law.
Prosecutors also said Vitangcol intentionally concealed the fact that Soriano was his uncle-in-law.
Soriano had asked the court to reverse the Ombudsman's motion to suspend him, arguing that he did not participate in the MRT deal in his official capacity as a Pangasinan official.
Citing the Graft Act, the court said that "the presumption is that unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both." – Rappler.com