MANILA - Senator Gregorio Honasan has opposed government prosecutors' plea for his preventive suspension pending his two graft cases at the Sandiganbayan stemming from his alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
In his opposition to the prosecution's motion to suspend pendente lite (pending litigation) filed before the court's 2nd Division, Honasan's camp said it is unconstitutional to suspend him “pending trial of these cases.”
“This amounts to an indefinite suspension of Senator Honasan from his office,” Honasan’s lawyer Dennis Manalo said in an opposition filed last August 10.
The Office of the Ombudsman had charged Honasan with two counts of graft involving the use of P29.1 million of his PDAF in alleged violation of procurement rules.
Honasan’s camp cited the Supreme Court ruling on Baculi vs. Office of the President which says “the law abhors indefinite preventive suspension because the indefiniteness violates the constitutional guarantees under the due process and equal protection clauses.”
In a motion filed last July 31, 2018, the prosecution cited the case Antonio M. Bolastig vs. Sandiganbayan et al, jurisprudence that makes preventive suspension “mandatory” on the presumption that “unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both."
“It is also worth mentioning that the aforementioned suspension is not in fact a penalty but a procedural aspect of the criminal cases, and that the nature of the preventive suspension is stressed as mandatory, to be imposed by the courts,” the prosecution said.
Honasan’s camp also told the Sandiganbayan that the prosecution's motion is premature and seeks to preempt the decision of the Supreme Court on his pending petition for certiorari which questions the jurisdiction of the anti-graft court.
“Unless the issue on the validity of this criminal prosecution against Senator Honasan is resolved by the Supreme Court, the prosecution should be precluded from seeking his indefinite preventive suspension,” Manalo said.
Honasan was ordered arrested in August last year over his PDAF cases but readily posted bail.