Sandiganbayan suspends Iloilo congressman Gorriceta over graft
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ordered the preventive suspension of Iloilo 2nd District Representative Arcadio Gorriceta over the pending graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against him in 2018.
The case against Gorriceta, former mayor of Pavia, Iloilo, involves the alleged misuse of the P1-million Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) of former Iloilo representative Augusto Syjuco in 2004.
According to prosecutors, the CDF meant for Pavia's Education for All program went to non-governmental organization Tagipusuon Foundation.
The Sandiganbayan 4th Division ruled in a resolution that the suspension of a public official charged with graft is mandatory. The resolution was signed by Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Reynaldo Cruz, and Bayani Jacinto.
A copy of the suspension order was delivered to the Office of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for implementation.
Gorriceta earlier argued that since he is now a member of the House of Representatives and not a municipal mayor, he is no longer in a position to influence the case. But the Sandiganbayan noted that the application of the law does not change just because one has already been elected to a different government office.
"While accused was charged as a municipal mayor of Pavia, whereas he now occupies the position of representative of the 2nd District of Iloilo, such change of office does not bar his preventive suspension," the anti-graft court said.
Gorriceta also argued that having gone through several surgical procedures for renal cell carcinoma with spinal metastasis, he is not a threat to the prosecution and its witnesses.
But the Sandiganbayan said Gorriceta's health "is of no moment considering that the only relevant consideration for the court in applying the legal mandate for preventive suspension is the fact that accused presently holds public office." – Rappler.com