An allegation is not evidence, moreso an allegation made in a mere pleading by a complainant who has no personal knowledge or cannot possibly have any personal knowledge of the facts, and stated in an unverified petition at that. Under the Local Government Code, a preventive suspension can be imposed by the President on an elective official of a highly urbanized city: 1.after the issues are joined, 2.when the evidence of guilt is strong, 3.when there is great probability that the respondent could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the integrity of the records.
As everybody knows, evidence can be object evidence (actual objects, like guns for example, in an illegal possession case, you have to mark the gun itself in court); documentary evidence (original documents as proof of their contents, or that are considered evidence of the transactions subject of the document, e.g., vouchers, contracts, land titles, etc.) and testimonial evidence.
The check that this power is not abused is the requirement of strong evidence. The pieces of evidence must be attached to the initiatory pleading (the complaint or verified petition) or the officer exercising the power must have conducted an investigation.
The DILG Secretary said in a press conference today that the Office of the President in an investigation conducted by it found that there were allegedly some 660 ghost employees employed by Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, that the incident allegedly occurred in January-December, 2005, and that it allegedly resulted in the payment of P113 million in salaries to the alleged ghost employees. The mayor on the other hand said that the complaint did not even state who the ghost employees were, and just alleged that there were.
Since an investigation was supposedly conducted the results of which are being invoked as “strong evidence”, those pieces of evidence should be made accessible to the public. To the press.
What the public, the respondent, the media, have right now are allegations.
The respondent said the complaint wasn’t verified. The requirement for verification may be mere form, but its purpose is precisely to, more or less, prevent or discourage people from lying in their complaint on pain of perjury. There were no names of the ghost employees. No piece of evidence was volunteered.
(In administrative cases we’ve handled where preventive suspensions were meted out, there were affidavits of victims, and photographs of the victims, there was even a finding of probable cause from a judge who issued a search warrant on the respondent.)
Maybe the Office of the President and the DILG, who supposedly conducted an investigation have documents showing that said employees used fictitious names or were fictitious, therefore ghost? Was that it? Nobody knows. Maybe they have testimonial evidence showing that said employees were household help or personal staff? Was that it? Nobody knows. That they only showed up every 15th and 30th? Was that it? Nobody knows.
(To be fair, there are many corrupt mayors. And there are requirements of evidence, too. Where we don’t follow those rules and requirements, we would have become like our enemies, whether they’re “terrorists” or “corrupt officials”; when we become like our enemies, we would have paid them the greatest compliment and would have presented the most convincing evidence that the system is not working and that our enemies were correct after all.)