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Bunye vs Escareal GR No.

110216 September 10, 1993 Facts: The above-named accused, all public officers of the Municipality of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, enacted Kapasiyahan Bilang 45 on August 1, 1988. They were charged of enacting said resolution in order to take possession of the New Public Market in Alabang, Muntinlupa and take over its operation and management starting August 19, 1988 despite the valid and subsisting lease contract for a term of 25 years between the Municipality of Muntinlupa and the Kilusang Bayan sa Paglilingkod and Mga Magtitinda ng Bagong Pamilihan ng Muntinlupa, Inc. (Kilusang Magtitinda). COA Chairman Domingo and MMC Governor Cruz also warned that appropriate legal steps be taken by the MMC toward the rescission of the contractto protect the interests of the Government, and to evaluate thoroughly and study further the case to preclude possible damages of financial liabilities which the Court may adjudge against that municipality as an offshoot of the case. The forcible take-over allegedly caused undue injury to the aforesaid Cooperative members, and gave the Municipal Government, and in effect, the herein accused, unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of their official functions. On the motion of the Public Prosecutor, the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution suspending them pendent lite from public office pursuant to Sec.13 of RA 3019. Petitioners Municipal Mayor, Vice Mayor and Councilors question the resolution suspending them from office for 90 days pending their trial for violation of Sec.3(3) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Issue: WON the preventive suspension is unjustified or unnecessary and its implementation will sow havoc and confusion in the government of the Municipality of Muntinlupa, to the shattering of the peace and order thereat?

Held: Sec.13 of RA No. 3019 as amended, provides that the accused public officials shall be suspended from office while the criminal prosecution is pending in court.

In Gonzaga vs Sandiganbayan, 201 SCRA 417, 422, 426, the SC ruled that such preventive suspension is mandatory. Preventive suspension n is not a penalty. In fact, suspension under Sec.13 of RA 3019 is mandatory once the validity of the information is determined (People vs CA, 135 SCRA 372). The Sandiganbayan clearly did not abuse its discretion when it ordered the preventive suspension of the petitioners. The Solicitor General correctly replied that it is not for the petitioners to say that their admissions are all the evidence that the prosecution will need to hold up its case against them. The prosecution must be given the opportunity to gather and prepare the facts for trial under conditions which would ensure non-intervention and non-interference for 90 straight days from petitioners camp (p.13, Solicitor Generals comment). The petitioners fear that the municipal government of Muntinlupa will be paralyzed for 90 days when they are preventively suspended is remote. There will still remain 8 councilors who can meet as the Sangguniang Bayan. The President or his alter ego, the Secretary of the Interior Local Government, will surely know how to deal with the problem of filling up the temporarily vacant positions of Mayor, Vice Mayor, and 6 councilors in accordance with the provisions of the LGC, RA 7160 (Samad vs COMELEC, et al., GR No. 107854; Samad vs Executive Secretary, et al., GR No. 108642, July 16, 1993).