The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division denied for lack of merit the motion filed by Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella seeking the reconsideration of its resolution denying his motion to quash, cancel and defer his arraignment, in the criminal case he is facing for the questionable purchase of a Information Technology package worth P26 million.
The amount was taken from Puentevella's Priority Development Assistance Fund when he was yet congressman of Bacolod City.
The Office of the Ombudsman had earlier ordered the filing of information before the Sandiganbayan against Puentevella, Victorino Tirol, Jr. of the Department of Education, and supplier Jessie Garcia, after finding probable cause to indict them for acting in violation of R.A. 3019, or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“The arraignment of Puentevella scheduled on May 14 will proceed as scheduled, unless this Court is served, prior to the scheduled arraignment a temporary restraining order or injunctive writ from the Supreme Court barring it from proceeding with it,” the SB said, according to the minutes of the April 24 proceedings approved by Associate Justices Jose Hernandez, Alex Quiroz and Maria Cristina Cornejo.
Puentevella, through his counsels, Redemptor Peig and Ralph Sarmiento, filed an omnibus motion dated April 6 asking the Sandiganbayan 4th Division to cancel and defer the arraignment of his case that was set on April 15.
The motion asked that the resolution of the court dated March 13, denying Puentevella's motion to quash/dismiss, be reconsidered and set aside. It also asked that his arraignment be cancelled and deferred until after the Supreme Court has resolved his petition for certiorari in SC-G.R. SP. No. 210696.
To this, however, the Sandiganbayan, said that “It is the view of this Court that there is no valid reason for it to defer the proceedings in this case. Even if his petition for certiorari with application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order dated Jan. 25, 2014 is pending before the Supreme Court, this Court was not even impleaded as a party to said petition.”
While it may appear that Puentevella filed on April 6 an urgent motion for leave to file supplemental petition for certiorari impleading the Sandiganbayan, and the People of the Philippines, as additional respondents, and with an urgent prayer for issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction dated March 31, there is no proof or showing until this time, 18 days since he filed it, that the Supreme Court has granted it, or has it issued a TRO or injunctive writ barring this Court from further proceeding with this case, it also said.
Copies of the minutes of the Sandiganbayan were furnished the DAILY STAR yesterday by Bacolod Councilor Carlos Jose Lopez who has been following up the case.
Lopez is on official travel to attend the Philippine Councilors League meeting.
Meanwhile, City Legal Officer Rayfrando Diaz lll said earlier that Puentevella is presumed innocent unless there is a final ruling on the case, and they hope to come up on top despite all these developments.*CGS
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