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Iloilo lawmaker suspended for favoring media group

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has suspended Iloilo City Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas for allegedly giving favor to a media organization when he was mayor. 

In an order dated Jan. 3, the anti-graft court suspended Treñas for 90 days for allegedly using government funds for the construction of the office of the Iloilo Press Club (IPC).

Treñas said the anti-graft court erred in ordering his preventive suspension, noting he is no longer mayor and cannot intimidate or influence the witnesses.

The charges against Treñas stemmed from the allegedly anomalous release of P500,000 in public funds to the IPC, a non-government organization, in December 2003 and January 2004.

The Office of the Ombudsman said Treñas violated Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he gave unwarranted benefits to the IPC.

The fund was intended for the construction of the media group’s office in Barangay San Pedro, Molo district.

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The anti-graft court said the law provides that government officials charged with graft could be meted with preventive suspension after a valid criminal complaint is filed.

“Once the complaint is found to be sufficient in form and substance, the court can issue the suspension order,” the ruling penned by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta read. 

The Sandiganbayan ordered Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to implement the order.

It also directed Alvarez to notify the court of the start and end of Treñas’ suspension.

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