The House of Representatives has approved on the second reading House Bill No. 6590 which seeks to amend the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by providing an exception to the imposition of preventive suspension against public officers.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, principal author of the bill, said the exception shall be applicable to public officers who are no longer connected with the office wherein the offense charged was committed.
He explained that as preventive suspension is imposed to avert an accused from influencing potential witnesses or tampering with records, the change in circumstances of the public officer effectively removes this threat, making the provision in line with the spirit and intent of the law.
The bill seeks to amend in particular Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, to now read as follows: “SEC. 13. Suspension and Loss of Benefits. – Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office for a period not exceeding 90 days: Provided, that in case such elected public officer is no longer connected with the office wherein the offense charged was committed, the preventive suspension order shall no longer be implemented.”
Should the incumbent public officer be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law.
But if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings have been filed against him.