Mayor helping fishermen in China 'hit and run' suspended over graft raps

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2019 03:56 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2019 07:27 PM

MANILA- The Sandiganbayan has ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro Mayor Romulo Festin, who is actively helping fishermen from his town attain justice after a Chinese ship rammed their boat.

Festin was ordered suspended by the court's 3rd division over 3 graft cases in connection with the computerization of the town’s real property tax assessment, purchase of multi-cabs and release of salaries to private individuals without daily time records which were all filed in 2016.

In a resolution promulgated on May 22, 2019, the anti-graft court noted that a suspension order is mandatory under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act to prevent an official from using his influence to his advantage in the course of court proceedings.

“Verily, once the information is found to be sufficient in form and substance, then the court must issue the order of suspension as a matter of course,” the court said in the resolution penned by Presiding Justice and 3rd Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.

In the resolution of the court, it was also noted that Festin’s lawyer stated that the cases were “hatched by accused’s political nemesis on the basis of pure political reasons and mere political harassment.”

A copy of the resolution was ordered furnished to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año for the implementation of the suspension order.

“The suspension of the accused shall automatically be lifted upon the expiration of the ninety-day period from the implementation of the resolution,” the court said.