THE Sandiganbayan has placed Candon City, Ilocos Sur city administrator Grace Singson under preventive suspension for 90 days together with six other city executives based on a pending charge of violation of RA 3019 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Suspended along with Singson were city budget officer Perla Gapatan, Sangguniang Panlungsod secretary Jerry Malamion, city general services officer Reynaldo Querubin, city engineer Esteban Martinez, city planning and development coordinator Naulie Cabanting, and administrative assistant Elynette Marie Martinez-Gadia.
The Office of the Ombudsman indicted them for graft last year over alleged irregularities attending the procurement of 109 units of water pumps in 2004 worth P1.82 million.
Named private defendants were Elynette Marie Martinez and Alain Lee, both of ACL Farm Hardware Importer and Repair Shop, the supplier-contractor.
Prosecutors said the transaction had no funding appropriation and had pushed through despite the lack of a Bids and Awards Committee resolution and notice of award.
In addition, graft investigators said there was evidence of under delivery wherein only 69 Honda pumps were reportedly distributed even if the city government paid for a total of 109 pumps.
Except for Gadia, all defendant city officials tried to contest the suspension saying the reason for its imposition is no longer attainable in their case.
They pointed out that all the records pertinent to the transactions were already submitted to the Ombudsman hence the fear of tampering with records and other evidence is already out of question.
Likewise, they argued that even if they were to continue to hold on to their respective offices, they are no longer in any position to intimidate any witness or frustrate the prosecution.
The court however declared that suspension of accused public officials once there has been a determination of the validity of the information for violation of RA 3019 becomes mandatory.