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Samar congresswoman suspended for 90 days

The office of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was asked by the Sandiganbayan to enforce the 90-day preventive suspension of Samar Rep. Milagrosa Tan owing to the latter's alleged anomalous purchase of medicines.

This came after the anti-graft court's First Division, in a resolution dated Nov. 23, issued the suspension order against Tan, which was intended to prevent her from tampering with the evidence and influencing the witnesses pending the trial of her case.

The anti-graft court asked the office of Speaker Arroyo, and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to implement the suspension order since it was “immediately executory.”

“Indeed, it is mandatory for the court to immediately issue the suspension order upon a proper determination of the validity of the information. Section 13 unequivocally mandates the suspension of a public official from office pending a criminal prosecution.

The Sandiganbayan also suspended the provincial treasurer, Bienvenido Sabanecio Jr., the officer-in-charge of the provincial general service office, Arial Yboa, and the supply officer, George Abrina, for the same period.

While still a Samar governor, Tan allegedly “willfully, unlawfully, and criminally” purchased various drugs, medicines, and dental supplies from Zybermed Medi Pharma owned by private respondent Roselyn Larce between March 28 and Aug. 21, 2007.

The Ombudsman claimed that Zybermed, a Pasig City-based business, was not licensed to operate in Catbalogan City.

The Commission on Audit, on the other hand, ruled that the purchase from Zybermed was “unnecessary and non-responsive to the exigencies of the service.”

While she pleaded not guilty to the charges, Tan said she should not be suspended because she is no longer the governor of Samar and, thus has no capability to influence potential witnesses nor affect relevant documents to the case.

Similarly, Tan said the prosecution only has to prove the necessity for the purchase of medicine and dental supplies despite an absence of witnesses.

But the Sandiganbayan enforced the suspension order against Tan and her co-accused as mandated by Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

But it said the suspension order is not a penalty.

The division chairman, Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz, penned the resolution and Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Edgardo Caldona concurred.

Topics: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo , Sandiganbayan , Milagrosa Tan , Eduardo Año
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