Malacanang has implemented the suspension order handed down by the Office of the Ombudsman against five officials of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) for six months for the alleged anomalous grant of frequencies to a private telecommunications company.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea signed a memorandum placing ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica, Deputy Director General Eduardo Bringas, division chief Sheryl Pura-Sumagui, and directors Jedrek Ng and Melamy Salvadora-Asperin under six-month preventive suspension in connection with a graft complaint filed against them by DITO Telecommunications Corp.
The memorandum also instructed Quita to submit a compliance report and certifications to the Office of the Ombudsman and Office of the President.
The Ombudsman suspended Belgica and four other ARTA officials for allegedly giving favor and special treatment to NOW Telecom Company Inc. (NOWTel), the firm that was applying for a franchise to operate in the country.
According to the Ombudsman’s directive, the suspension order is not a punishment but a way “to secure the documents and to prevent possible harassment of witnesses” as their continued duty may prejudice the case against them.
The Ombudsman noted “strong evidence of guilt” in the pending administrative charges against the respondents.
A complaint filed by DITO Telecommunity alleged that ARTA officials violated Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Belgica and the four other officials have lodged a motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman, noting that ARTA acted within the limits of its mandate under Republic Act No. 11032 Section 10 or the Ease of Doing Business Law.