MANILA The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the suspension of an official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) pending investigation on charges of graft and violation of procurement law against him.
In a 10-page decision dated April 26 penned by Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla, concurred by Associate Justices Eduardo Peralta Jr. and Nina Antonio Valenzuela, the CA 17th Division upheld the Office of the Ombudsman's suspension order against PDEA Director for Intelligence and Investigation Service Randy Pedroso after he failed to show evidence that the issuance of his suspension order by the Ombudsman was attended with arbitrariness.
CA held that no grave abuse of discretion can be imputed on the Ombudsman in ordering the suspension of Pedroso on July 19, 2017.
Such finding is not tainted with grave abuse of discretion as it was anchored on supporting documentary evidence attached to the complaint. None of these documents was challenged to be inadmissible. In fact, they are admitted to be official and regular, the CA explained.
Pedroso was placed under preventive suspension, together with five other PDEA officials, following the filing of a complaint by the Field Investigation Bureau of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices for malversation through falsification, violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for giving undue preference to a private party in awarding a government contract, violation of Section 10 of Republic Act 9184 which requires all procurement be subject to competitive bidding, grave misconduct and serious dishonesty.
The charges stemmed from the alleged anomalous transaction involving the leasing of luxurious vehicles for PDEA's operation from purported spurious companies SSMM Vehicle Rental Services and BEMV Transport Services from January to June 2013 using public funds.
In his appeal, Pedroso insisted that there is no basis to conclude that the evidence of guilt against him is strong to warrant his suspension.
He claimed that he was deprived of his right to due process when the Ombudsman issued the order without reading his counter-affidavit.
But the CA did not give weight to Pedroso's claim that he was deprived of due process and that the Ombudsman failed to consider his counter-affidavit.
In fact, the appellate court said the Ombudsman is not required to furnish him a copy of the complaint prior to the issuance of a preventive suspension order.
It added that the suspension order may also be issued even before the charges against him are heard.
While due process may be relied upon by public officials to protect their security of tenure which, in a limited sense, is analogous to property, such fundamental right to security of tenure cannot be invoked against a preventive suspension order which is a preventive measure, not imposed as a penalty, the appellate court stressed. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency