New Ombudsman orders stop to motions to suspend indicted officials

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Hon. Samuel Martires

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) — Ombudsman Samuel Martires has ordered his prosecutors to stop filing motions before the Sandiganbayan seeking the preventive suspension of incumbent government officials facing corruption charges.

"All concerned shall no longer be required to file motions to suspend the accused pendente lite before the Sandiganbayan or the lower courts," Martires said in a memorandum dated August 28, 2018 sent to prosecutors of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Section 13 of RA 3019 or the graft law mandates the suspension of incumbent public officials facing prosecution.

But Martires said prosecutors need not file a motion for preventive suspension because the court can do that motu propio or on its own.

He ordered the withdrawal of such motions filed prior to the issuance of the memorandum.

"All motions for suspension pendente lite which have been filed before the issuance of this memorandum but which remain unresolved by the trial courts are ordered withdrawn," he said.

New Policy

The memorandum comes barely a month since Martires assumed his position as ombudsman.

His predecessor, Conchita Carpio Morales, allowed prosecutors to seek the preventive suspension of indicted incumbent officials for at least 90 days to prevent them from using their position to tamper with evidence or influence potential witnesses.

Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said seeking preventive suspension had been the common practice of prosecutors handling cases at the anti-graft court.

When asked if her division had issued a preventive suspension on its own, she said-"As far as I can recall, the Third Division has not done so."

She added though that there First and Seventh Divisions have issued suspension orders motu propio.

Senator Gringo Honasan is among the first to benefit from the new policy.

Prosecutors had earlier moved for his preventive suspension while he faces trial for a graft case over his alleged misuse of pork barrel.

In a new pleading, the prosecution told the court it has no choice but to withdraw the motion in light of Martires' memorandum.

"What the panel respectfully seeks, by filing this instant Manifestation with Motion, is to fully concede with and respect the full authority and sound wisdom of this Honorable Court to order the preventive suspension motu proprio of herein accused," the prosecution said.