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Ombudsman suspends Marikina engineer and 6 others for ‘extortion’

In a 10-page order approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on June 5, the anti-graft agency ordered the Marikina government to suspend Sueno without pay.

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of Marikina engineer Kennedy Sueno and six other city officials over alleged extortion in the issuance of construction permits.

In a 10-page order approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on June 5, the anti-graft agency ordered the Marikina government to suspend Sueno without pay.

Also suspended were Executive Section Chief Romeo Gutierrez Jr., Building Inspector Marlito Poquiz, Electrical Inspector Alex Copreros, Engineer Mark de Joya, Electrical Foreman Manuel Santos and Administrative Advisor Abigail Joy Santiago.

The spokesman said the suspension should not exceed six months. It may be lifted sooner upon completion or conclusion of the investigation.

The spokesman said the suspension is “immediately enforceable” regardless of any motions, appeals or petitions the defendants may file, unless Martires orders a stay.

“This office finds sufficient grounds to suspend the defendants, finding that there is strong evidence to prove their guilt. Their continued stay in office may be detrimental to the investigation,” we read in the decision.

A spokesman said the suspension is intended to “preserve documents and other possible evidence that may be in the defendants’ possession.”

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro was ordered to oversee the implementation of the suspension of city officials.

Sueno, Gutierrez, Poquiz, Copreros, De Joya, Santos and Santiago are facing administrative complaints for serious misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the service.

The charges stem from a complaint filed on May 8 by spouses Brian and Agnes Torres for alleged bribery to expedite the processing and approval of their August 2021 construction and occupancy permit applications.

The couple complained they faced “numerous obstacles” when applying, with staff from the city’s engineering office paying £430,000.