Court orders suspension of Oriental Mindoro lawmaker Leachon
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court has ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Paulino Salvador "Doy" Leachon over a graft case filed when he was still mayor of Calapan City.
Leachon was charged with graft for allegedly allowing the delivery of sand to a property owned by private respondent Juan Vinas using 5 city-owned dump trucks and their drivers without the corresponding payments.
State prosecutors atttempted to withdraw the case in 2013, but the Sandiganbayan proceeded with it after finding probable cause to indict Leachon and 3 others.
Leachon's co-accused, Calapan City engineer Benjamin Acedera, has also been ordered suspended.
Leachon had argued that the Sandiganbayan should put the suspension order on hold pending the final decision of the Supreme Court on his petition for certiorari.
In his petition before the High Court, Leachon said the prosecution's move to withdraw the case placed the Sandiganbayan's finding of probable cause and the validity of the charge in question.
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division, however, "stressed" that the SC has yet to issue an injunctive writ or a temporary restraining order. It also noted that the SC earlier denied Leachon's petition for certiorari, upholding the Sandiganbayan's decision to reject the prosecution's motion.
Leachon, Acedera, barangay captain Ernesto Vinas, and Juan Vinas were charged for allowing the use of city-owned dump trucks to deliver sand to the property of Juan Vinas without paying for them.
Government lawyers moved to drop the case based on the information there was an existing memorandum of agreement between Juan Vinas and the city government to use the former's property as a spoil bank.
In an 2013 ruling, the Sandiganbayan, however, asserted that there was still probable cause to indict Leachon based on the evidence provided by complainant Nilo Baculo.
Will House suspend Leachon?
When the Sandiganbayan ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in July 2014, the House of Representatives did not immediately implement the court decision.
House leaders said that for the suspension order to be implemented, it had to be put to a vote in the plenary and garner the two-thirds vote of the 290-member chamber. Back then, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said rules state that only the House can suspend its own members. To date, Arroyo's suspension order has yet to be implemented.
In its resolution, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division acknowledged the situation.
The court said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr "is not tasked to implement this suspension order, but he or his duly authozied representative shall inform this Court in writing of the actual date when accused Paulino Salvador C. Leachon voluntarily complied with the preceding directive so that this Court would be able to determine when the nine day period of suspension will end or terminate." – Rappler.com