By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Limay Mayor Nelson David of Bataan due to the pending graft charges against him in relation to the municipality’s reportedly anomalous purchase of land owned by his sons.
David had been slapped with violations of Section 3(e) and (g) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. This was for the municipality’s overpriced purchase of agricultural land owned by Richie Jayson and Christian Ryan David, both his sons, who were also part of the Municipal Appraisal Committee.
David’s sons appraised the land at P10,180,380 by referencing the valuation set for residential land, and not as agricultural land, as indicated in its tax declaration back in October 2002. As a result, the municipality purchased the land at this overvalued appraisal.
In an order dated July 2, 2019, the court directed David to show cause why he should not be suspended pedente lite in accordance with Section 13 of R.A. 3019.
David replied on July 11, explaining that he has not been the municipal mayor of Limay for almost a decade. During such time, David said it was impossible for him to influence, pressure or intimidate witnesses or tamper documentary evidence in the conduct of the investigations.
However, the anti-graft court found no merit in his arguments. Just like in all other suspension orders, the court relied on Section 13 of R.A. 3019. The said law states that “any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this act…shall be suspended from office.”
“The court has neither discretion nor duty to determine whether suspension pedente lite is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office,” the resolution read.
The five-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Karl Miranda with the concurrence of Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero.