Court orders 90-day suspension of Guiuan municipal officials tagged in firetruck mess

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The Sandiganbayan has ordered the 90-day suspension of five municipal officials of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, pending their trial in connection with the purchase of a P1.9-million firetruck without the benefit of public bidding in 2007.

In a recent resolution, the court’s 6th Division ordered the preventive suspension of municipal engineer Arsenio Salamida, municipal budget officer Esperanza Cotin, municipal planning development officer Ma. Nenita Ecleo, administrative officer Felipe Padual, and market supervisor Danilo Colandog.

The court said it was mandatory under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act to suspend incumbent public officials facing valid corruption charges.

It noted that the validity of the charges was no longer in question since the five officials already went through arraignment, in which they all pleaded not guilty.

“The court has neither discretion nor duty to determine whether preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Karl Miranda.

Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan was also preventively suspended in an order released earlier to reporters.

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