The Sandiganbayan Third Division has ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Dapa, Surigao del Norte Mayor Peter Rauya while his graft case over the anomalous purchase of municipal heavy equipment is pending litigation.
The case stemmed from P13-million worth of heavy equipment purchase approved by the municipal Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) despite its exclusion from the municipal Annual Procurement Plan for 2008. The heavy equipment units were also shipped prior the actual BAC procurement proceedings.
Last August, the prosecution sought the suspension of Ruaya after he was re-elected as mayor.
The Sandiganbayan granted the prosecution's request despite Ruaya's argument that his suspension has no basis.
In an opposition, Ruaya said he could no longer influence or intimidate witnesses because both panels were done marking the pieces of evidence and that prosecution's key witnesses were already presented.
The Sandiganbayan reiterated that Ruaya's suspension is mandatory under the Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The law requires the suspension of a public official with a valid case which involves fraud upon government or public funds or property.
"The court trying a case has neither discretion or duty to determine whether preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continuing committing malfeasance in office," the Sandiganbayan noted.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno has been directed to implement the suspension order.