Sandiganbayan suspends MinDA official accused of corruption

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    MINDANAO Development Authority-Office of Finance and Administrative Services Director Charlita Escano has been placed under 90-day preventive suspension by the Sandiganbayan based on a pending graft charge filed in 2018 by the Office of the Ombudsman.

    In the January 7, 2020 resolution penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement the suspension order.

    DILG Secretary Año was also directed to submit a written report to the court on actions taken within 15 days from receipt of the ruling.

    The court said there are two conditions that must be satisfied to warrant a preventive suspension: that the accused should be an incumbent public official and that the court must have established that the information validly charges the defendant with a criminal offense involving graft, fraud upon the government, or fraud involving government fund or property.

    Associate Justices Sarah Jane T. Fenrnandez and Karl B. Miranda concurred.

    The court noted that there has been a court finding that the information is sufficient in both form and substance and the accused has not disputed its validity.

    “Verily, the conditions for preventive suspension have been satisfied and the Court is duty-bound to issue the order of suspension against accused as a matter of course,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    Escaño was indicted for violation of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allowing her husband, Allan Escaño, a non-MinDA personnel, to participate in the “Basic Occupational Safety and Health Course for Construction Officers” at the Ritz Hotel in Davao City from March 16 to 20, 2015.

    Graft investigators said the training cost the MinDA P30,000 for registration fee for its five-man delegation, but only four employees attended. Escaño’s spouse took the slot originally reserved for the fifth MinDA personnel who was unable to attend.

    Respondent claimed that she invited her husband to come along after she was informed that a refund of the registration fee will not be allowed. She said the organizers raised no objection.

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