MANILA—The Sandiganbayan has ordered a 90-day suspension pendente lite on Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary for Operations Mario Relampagos for his alleged involvement in the multi-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam of former Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez.
Also suspended were DBM officials Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare; Technology Resource Center (TRC) officials Marivic Jover and Consuelo Lilian Espitritu; ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation officials Salvador Salacup and Eduardo Nolasco; National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCor) officials Romulo Relevo and Maria Ninez Guañizo; and National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) officials Gondelina Amata, Gregoria Buenaventura, Chita Jalandoni, Sofia Cruz and Ofelia Ordoñez.
“Suspension pendente lite is a measure imposed by the law to safeguard the state while the case is pending and the accused is not penalized per se. Rather, the suspension under Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 is a mere preventive measure that arises from the legal presumption that unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Valdez, Relampagos and the other co-accused stand trial for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, after investigation showed that Valdez siphoned more than PHP50 million in kickbacks when he channeled his 2007 to 2009 PDAF to non-government organizations (NGOs) controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the PHP10-billion pork barrel and the PHP900-million Malampaya Fund scam.