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Mendoza accepts suspension order

North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza received yesterday the order of the Sandiganbayan First Division to put her under a 90-day preventive suspension in light of her pending graft case for using her mother’s gas station to procure diesel for the provincial government.

In a statement, Mendoza’s counsel Atty. Vincent Paul L. Montejo said they are still maintaining that the provincial governor’s graft charge has no basis.

“While Gov. Mendoza maintains that the charges of graft filed against her have no basis, in deference to the Sandiganbayan, she has chosen to voluntarily serve out her suspension,” stated Montejo.

Mendoza’s case stems from the anomalous purchase of 49,526.72 liters of fuel from the Taliño Shell Station which was owned and operated by her mother.

The fuel was used for one road grader and four dump trucks for the government’s two-day road rehabilitation purchased, and it was Mendoza who authorized the release of R2.4 million worth of provincial funds for that purpose.

Mendoza argued that her mother’s gas station was the only one willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government, so no public bidding was conducted.

But in the charge sheet against her, the office of the Ombudsman said that “there was no compelling justification for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding.”

Section 13 of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, unequivocally provides that accused public officials “shall be suspended from office” while the criminal prosecution is pending in court. (Czarina Nicole Ong)