Sandiganbayan orders preventive suspension of Naga City, Cebu mayor over graft case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2019 05:40 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan has suspended a Cebu mayor for 90 days in connection with the graft case he is facing for alleged illegal issuance of a mayor's permit to an energy company.

In a decision promulgated on July 25, the anti-graft court's 6th Division imposed a mandatory 90-day preventive suspension on Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong.

The Sandiganbayan said Chiong's suspension is in line with the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as related Supreme Court decisions to prevent him from using his power to influence witnesses or hamper the gathering of prosecution evidence.

The suspension was given despite Chiong's argument that it was no longer necessary as the prosecution was already in possession of evidence they need for his graft case. He also argued that he has to discharge his duties as the elected mayor of Naga, but to no avail.

“Accused Chiong's contention is unmeritorious,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda.

Chiong supposedly gave unwarranted benefit to Petronas Energy Philippines in 2014 for giving a mayor's permit despite the company's lack of the pre-requisite Fire Safety Inspection Certification from the Bureau of Fire Protection.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government was given a copy of the suspension order, which will be automatically lifted upon expiration of the 90-day period.