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Sandigan suspends lawmaker, city mayor

THE Sandiganbayan has ordered a 90-day preventive suspension on Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Aurora Enerio-Cerilles for graft raps over questionable purchase of overpriced medical supplies worth P7 million in 2001 when she was provincial governor.

 “The suspension of a public officer charged with an offense that is covered by Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 is but a fortification of the principle that public office is a public trust,” the anti-graft court’s decision read.

“They must at all times, be accountable to the people in the fulfillment of their duties.”  

In July 2012, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of graft charges against Enerio-Cerilles before the Sandiganbayan for overpriced medical supplies in 2001.

The Commission on Audit found out that P6.879 million worth of medical supplies were solely procured from U-Net Distributors Corp.

“There is no reason to believe that [the] had unlawfully allowed the direct purchase of medical supplies from U-Net Distributors Corp. despite knowing that the situation does not call for such kind of purchase and notwithstanding that the documents supporting the identity of the said distributor as an exclusive distributor are questionable,” the Ombudsman’s complaint read.

According to the Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the transaction was deemed irregular since Enerio-Cerilles failed to follow the procurement procedure.

The provincial government of Zamboanga del Sur could have saved over P1.204 million by holding a public bidding, instead of giving the contract to a single supplier, the Ombudsman said.

Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentebella was also ordered suspended for 90 days over the alleged overpriced P26-million purchase of computer packages for public schools.

The order was penned by Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Jose Hernandez and concurred by Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Oscar Hererra.

 “The plaintiff’s motion to suspend the accused is granted. The accused Monico O. Puentebella is ordered preventively suspended from his present position as the Mayor of Bacolod, Province of Negros Occidental or from any other government position he may now or afterwards hold for a period of 90 days effective immediately upon receipt and implementation of this resolution,” the order read.

A staunch critic of Puentebella, Councilor Carlos Jose Lopez, who followed up the case at the Sandiganbayan, furnished the media a copy of the Sept. 28 decision.

The graft suit stemmed from the overpriced purchase of computer packages at P26 million for public schools in Bacolod City between 2001 and 2006, which was funded by Puentevella’s Priority Development Assistance Fund.

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