House Bill 3605, which is authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez seeks to prevent the anti-graft court from preventively suspending incumbent officials for offenses committed during the officials’ previously held position.
It will be recalled that in numerous instances the Ombudsman has relied upon Section 13 of R.A. 3019 in asking the Sandiganbayan to suspend public officials charged with graft as a matter of course.
The prosecutors argue that the officials charged with graft should be preventively suspended to prevent them from using his or her position to tamper with evidence or intimidate witnesses.
Section 13 reads” Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title Seven Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government of public funds or property whatever as a simple or complex offense and in whatever state of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court shall be suspended from office.”
Speaker’s Alvarez bill wishes to insert the phrase “provided, that in case such incumbent public officer is no longer connected with the office wherein the offense charged was committed, the preventive suspension order shall no longer be implemented.”
The bill was co-authored by Majority Floor Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Farinas, Minority Leader Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque.
At present, at least two members of the House of Representatives, namely Rep. LRay Villafuerte Jr. of Camarines Sur and Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino of Pangasinan have been suspended by the Sandiganbayan for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Prosecutors have also asked the court to suspend Rep. Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa, who is also facing graft, malversation and direct bribery charges for his alleged participation in the pork barrel scam.