MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 6th Division has ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Pangasinan 5th District Rep. Amado Espino Jr. over graft.
Espino will face trial for allegedly allowing black sand mining operations in Lingayen Gulf, and for permitting the export of P10.750 million worth of minerals to China when he was the provincial governor in 2011.
READ: Pangasinan governor indicted for black sand mining
In a resolution penned by Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada, concurred in by Justices Oscar Herrera and Karl Miranda, the Sandiganbayan ordered the preventive suspension in accordance with the Republic Act 3019 or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act."
The Sandiganbayan said, the law requires the suspension of an accused incumbent public officer, including lawmakers, with pending criminal case involving fraud of public funds or property.
"It must be remembered that the imposition of suspension pendente lite is not a penalty because it is not imposed as a result of judicial proceedings. In fact if acquitted, the official concerned is entitled to reinstatement and to salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension," the Sandiganbayan resolution read.
The Sandiganbayan ordered House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to implement the suspension order. Alvarez or his representative is also required to inform the court on the actual date of the implementation of suspension.
Espino has 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration on his suspension order.
Espino was earlier implicated by President Rodrigo Duterte in the drug trade.
Espino was included in a "drugs matrix" released by Duterte which accuses Senator Leila de Lima and several others of being involved in the illegal drug activities at the national penitentiary under the previous administration.
READ: Espino meets Duterte, denies role in Bilibid drug trade