Muntinlupa's Biazon, DBM officials suspended over PDAF scam
MANILA, Philippines – Anti-graft court Sandiganbayan recently ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Muntinlupa City Representative Rozzano Rufino Biazon and 4 officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), based on the graft charges filed against them by the Office of the Ombudsman.
In a 5-page resolution, the court's 7th division imposed the suspension against Biazon and his co-accused: Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Budget and Management specialist Rosario Nuñez, as well as administrative assistants Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare.
In March, the Office of the Ombudsman affirmed the findings of probable cause to indict Biazon and several others in connection with the multi-million-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
According to the Office of the Ombudsman, Biazon, in particular, anomalously used his 2007 PDAF by endorsing P3 million to the Philippine Social Foundation Incorporated (PSFI), a non-governmental organization associated and controlled by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles with Evelyn de Leon as its president.
Biazon also reportedly received P1.95 million in "rebates" through his agent, Zenaida Ducut, a former Pampanga congresswoman and chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission.
He and the DBM officials questioned the motion of the prosecution seeking their suspension.
While Biazon is not convinced about the wisdom of an automatic suspension, the budget officials said an additional 90-day suspension would be oppressive since they had served 3 consecutive periods of suspension for other graft charges they are facing in connection with the PDAF scam.
During the suspension period, government officials do not get their salaries and benefits.
The Sandiganbayan, however, insisted on the mandatory nature of a preventive suspension as provided by Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
"While accused Biazon claims that he is not convinced with the wisdom of the mandatory character of the above provision, this does not change the law and jurisprudence as it now stands. The mandatory nature of the preventive suspension …has also been underscored by the Supreme Court," the resolution read.
The Sandiganbayan also noted that "Relampagos et al and Biazon have already filed motions for judicial determination of probable cause. This Court has denied the said motions and upheld the validity of the Informations against them."
Biazon has already expressed his intention to voluntarily serve his 90-day suspension. – Rappler.com