Guv orders suspension of SK vice mayor, 5 others over graft charges

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DAVAO CITY —Governor Suharto Mangudadatu has ordered the 45-day preventive suspension of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat vice mayor and five town councilors for allegedly violating the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.

Ordered suspended starting on May 17, 2021 are Isulan town Vice mayor Vice Mayor Lord Dean Castillo, Municipal Councilors Rene Aristoza, Mariblithe Cartujano-Garingo, Gina Belmes Dael, Ryan M. Dumaran and Clarice Lagdamen.

Sultan Kudarat provincial legal officer Lorenzo Balo on Tursday said the suspension order was contained in an administrative order issued by Mangudadatu after the chairpersons of Barangays Kolambog and Dansuli filed charges against the above mentioned officials.

Governor Suharto issued Administrative Order No. 015 it took effect on may 17, 2021.

“The suspension would allow the respondents to air their sides in the proper forum,” Balo said.

In a statement, Castillo and his co-accused said they will abide by the governor’s order and obey the law even if it was against their will.

In a Facebook post, Catillo stressed “Nag-ugat sa Administrative Complaint na nai-file ni Kapitan Durana ng Dansuli at Kapitan Mansilla ng Kolambog laban sa amin. Nagsimula ang lahat sa pagpapaalis ng dalawang Kapitan sa mga BHW sa kanilang barangay, at ang pagfile ng administrative complaints ng mga BHW laban sa kanila. Ang complaints ay kasalukuyang naka-lodge sa Sangguniang Bayan ng Isulan at hindi pa namin nadedesisyunan.”

“Our lawyers are working to challenge the order that we believed is unfair and oppressive,” the statement added.

“We maintain our position that we have done no wrong and we have only stayed true to our principle to give equal opportunity for everyone to be heard,” the group said. “In due time and through legal means, we will be back to as your lowly public servants in our beloved municipality.”

In February this year, Castillo and his co-accused went to the court to post bail after loose talks circulated in town that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is set to arrest them.

“We were not arrested; we voluntarily went to the court to post bail, went to the police to submit necessary documents,” Castillo said in a statement on February 3. “We are not in any way involved in graft or corruption.”

He said he and other local officials did not receive any subpoena from the provincial prosecutor’s office to air their side on the case filed against them.

The vice mayor recalled that barangay officials in two villages of Isulan had filed complaints against their respective village chairs after they were removed from their corresponding jobs following the 2019 elections.

Castillo said the complaints against the barangay chairpersons were filed before the Isulan town council and it is still pending.

The village chairpersons, meanwhile, filed charges against the vice mayor and five other council members before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sultan Kudarat for violation of RA 3019 or the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.

The accused are out on bail but could not perform duties as they were suspended for 45 days.-with reports from Edwin O. Fernandez

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