Graft court suspends mayor helping fishers

THE mayor of a Mindoro town who is helping the fishermen whose boat was reportedly sunk by a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank was ordered suspended.

The Sandiganbayan ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of San Jose, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Romulo Festin over three graft cases.

Festin is actively helping the 22 fishermen to get justice after their lives were put in danger when a Chinese vessel rammed their boat and left them floating at sea.

The Third Division of the Sandiganbayan suspended Festin in connection with cases involving computerization of the town’s real property tax assessment, purchase of multi-cabs and release of salaries to private individuals without daily time records which were all filed in 2016.

In a resolution promulgated last month, the anti-graft court noted that a suspension order is mandatory under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act to prevent an official from using his influence to his advantage in the course of court proceedings.

“Verily, once the information is found to be sufficient in form and substance, then the court must issue the order of suspension as a matter of course,” the ruling read.

The resolution was penned by Presiding Justice and 3rd Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.

A copy of the suspension order was sent to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año for the implementation.

“The suspension of the accused shall automatically be lifted upon the expiration of the ninety-day period from the implementation of the resolution,” the court said.