TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- The anti-graft court has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement the 90-day suspension pendente lite against incumbent Roxas, Isabela Vice Mayor Servando Soriano, the Ombudsman said on Monday, September 27.
In a resolution dated September 2, 2016, the Sandiganbayan sustained the motion filed by Ombudsman prosecutors citing the mandatory suspension of an official being probed under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
Soriano is facing charges for allegedly violating the section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 and Malversation of Public Funds in connection with the “unlawful” P25 million grant made by the provincial government of Isabela to the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation, Inc.(EDWINLFI) in 2006.
Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 directs the suspension of any incumbent official against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid Information, for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court.
Soriano was reported to have concurrently served as director of EDWINLFI, a non-government organization tapped to manage a credit facility for Isabela’s rice farmers under a hybrid seed distribution program.
The Ombudsman questioned the failure to conduct a public bidding when the transaction was in the nature of a management or consultancy a contract. They noted the absence of any provision for safeguards on the amount entrusted to the NGO.
The grant was made during the administration of former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca. The Ombudsman already ordered the filing of charges against Padaca and 2 others.
Padaca was accused of giving undue advantage to the EDWINLFI, which was entrusted the sum of P25-M which as part of a loan drawn by the provincial government from the Development Bank of the Philippines.
In a report issued by the Commission on Audit, government auditors said EDWINLFI failed to liquidate P3.6-M under “due from NGOs/POs” and another P18-M under “loans receivables.”
The Sandiganbayan, on May 2012, issued an arrest warrant against Padaca on the same charges and set her bail bond at P40,000 for malversation and P30,000 for the graft case.