Anti-graft group asks Ombudsman to suspend MMDA chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2010 05:02 PM | Updated as of Aug 06 2010 12:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should not give her critics another justification that she is not doing her job by placing under preventive suspension Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, a group said.

In a press release, the Center for Anti-Graft and Corruption Prevention, Inc. (The Center) said Gutierrez should “fairly exercise parallel attention, enthusiasm and resolve to the instant case against [Tolentino]” similar to an action done against Commission of Elections officials.

The Office of the Ombudsman suspended 6 Comelec officials and personnel last week in connection to the allegedly onerous ballot secrecy folder deal.

Tolentino and his brother, current Tagaytay Mayor Abraham Tolentino, are facing graft charges filed by former Tagaytay vice-mayoral bet Pastor Ronald Tan.

The complainant accused Tolentino’s family of constructing hotels and business establishments despite earning only P40,000 as mayor.

The Center said the gravity of the charges should prompt Gutierrez to evaluate the possibility of suspending Tolentino.

“We fervently urge Ombudsman Gutierrez act with speed in determining the issuance of a preventive suspension against Chairman Tolentino pending investigation to make sure justice is rendered with absolute fairness,” The Center secretary-general Lane Afable said.

Ironic

Tolentino earlier branded the graft charges as mere “black propaganda.”

He had admitted the businesses were already there even when he was not yet the mayor. Some of the buildings were also constructed after his term, Tolentino had said.

Afable however dismissed Tolentino’s claims as flimsy excuses.

“Chairman Tolentino’s situation is fast becoming an ugly irony that is feared to hurt the integrity of President Aquino and his administration, thus, it is crucial for the MMDA chair to consider many things, even taking a supreme sacrifice by resigning,” Afable said.