Ombudsman seeks suspension of Bogo City vice mayor over graft

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to suspend Bogo City vice mayor Maria Cielo Martinez over a pending graft and malversation case involving public funds. 

Prosecutor Jennifer Agustin-Se and assistant special prosecutor Jennifer Carreon filed a motion on Wednesday, November 9 asking the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan to place vice mayor Martinez under preventive suspension. 

Vice mayor Martinez, together with her mother, former Cebu representative Clavel Martinez, and brother, former Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) member Celestino Martinez III, has been charged with graft for illegally disbursing P10 million of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Rep. Martinez to her personal account, using the Girl Scouts of the Philippines-Cebu as a conduit. (READ: Ex-Cebu rep, children, allowed to post bail in PDAF case)

Representative Martinez, in her defense, said the bank account where the P10 million was deposited to was a trust fund maintained by GSP Cebu.

The alleged fraudulent disbursement took place in 2002. The Ombudsman filed a case in December 18, 2012. 

Also named co-defendants in the graft and malversation cases were then Bogo City Treasurer Rhett Minguez, municipal accountant Cresencio Verdida, Girl Scouts of the Philippines-Cebu Council bookkeeper Rhodariza Kilantang and GSP-Cebu cashier-designate Julieta Quiño.

Vice mayor Martinez was arraigned on June 10, 2014 and entered a not guilty plea. She ran again and won her re-election bid in the May 2016 elections. Her brother, Carlo Martinez, won as city mayor. 

In calling for her suspension, the prosecutors invoked RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which requires the court to suspend a defendant public official charged with graft. -