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Ombudsman suspends Marikina engineer, 6 others for 'extortion'

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 a building permit.

In a 10-page order approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on June 5, the anti-graft agency directed the Marikina government to implement Sueno’s suspension without pay.

Also suspended were Enforcement Section chief Romeo Gutierrez Jr., building inspector Marlito Poquiz, electrical inspector Alex Copreros, engineer Mark de Joya, electrician foreman Manuel Santos and administrative aide Abigail Joy Santiago.

The ombudsman said the suspension should not exceed six months. It may be lifted earlier once the investigation is finished or terminated.

The ombudsman said the suspension is “immediately executory” notwithstanding any motion, appeal or petition that may be filed by the respondents, unless ordered halted by Martires.

“This office finds sufficient grounds to suspend the respondents, considering that there is strong evidence showing their guilt. Their continued stay in office may prejudice the probe,” the order read.

The ombudsman said the suspension aims to “preserve the documents and other possible evidence, which may be in the custody of the respondents.”

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

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

The charges stemmed from a complaint filed on May 8 by spouses Brian and Agnes Torres over alleged bribery to fast-track the processing and approval of their application for building and occupancy permits in August 2021.

The couple complained that they encountered “numerous obstacles” during the application process and paid personnel of the city engineering office P430,000.