MANILA—Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero was ordered suspended for 90 days by the Sandiganbayan 6th Division over graft cases allegedly involving unlawful appointments of consultants to the municipal government in 2013.
In a resolution promulgated on July 2, the anti-graft court said it ordered the preventive suspension of Montero pursuant to the provision of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act on the mandatory suspension of an accused who holds a position in government.
“Montero shall immediately cease and desist from performing the functions of her office upon the implementation of this order of preventive suspension,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda.
Montero is facing 4 counts of graft and 4 counts of violation of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code for the appointment of 4 candidates who lost in the 2013 elections as consultants, an act prohibited under the Local Government Code.
The court noted that in her written manifestation, Montero said a suspension is no longer necessary as all investigations have already been completed and terminated.
She also argued that during the investigation, she never manipulated or coerced the persons involved in the handling of information or documents related to the case.
But the court cited Supreme Court decisions in Beroña, et al., vs. Sandiganbayan and Miranda vs. Sandiganbayan, et al. that preventive suspensions of accused government officials are mandatory.
“Under the obtaining facts, it becomes the mandatory duty of the court to suspend the accused,” the court said.