Mandaue RTC orders issuance of bench warrant against Sitoy-Cho


Former mayor Therese Sitoy-Cho of Cordova.| File Photo

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu — The Mandaue City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 55 has ordered the issuance of a bench warrant against former Cordova Mayor Therese Sitoy-Cho.

This decision came after the former mayor failed to appear at her arraignment on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, regarding her election case for violating Section 261(h) of the Omnibus Election Code.

A copy of the bench warrant will also be sent to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Immigration, and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

In addition to the bench warrant, Mandaue RTC Branch 55 Judge Ferdinand Rafanan ordered the accused to explain in writing within 30 days why no judgment should be rendered for the cancellation of her bail bond.

During the arraignment hearing for the former mayor, Lawyer Ian Sapayan, legal counsel of the Commission on Election (Comelec)-7, requested the court to cancel the bail bond.

Furthermore, Cho’s legal counsels, Lawyers Edgar Gica, Jude Fernandez, and Ruselo Asentista, were also ordered to explain why they should not be fined P5,000 for failing to appear in court despite being notified.

The complaint stemmed from Cho’s order to transfer a certain Juliete Tampus during the election period without seeking exemption from the Comelec.

Tampus, an employee of the Municipal Agriculture Office, was transferred to another office in January 2022 during the election period for the May 2022 Presidential Election.

According to Section 261(h) of the Omnibus Election Code, it is prohibited for a public official to transfer or detail any officer or employee in the civil service, including public school teachers, within the election period without prior approval from the Comelec.

On March 1, 2024, Cho posted bail worth P36,000 for the said case before the RTC in Barili for her temporary liberty.

“This is a significant issue in criminal cases where the accused is granted bail while the prosecution is unable to proceed to trial. Should the Bench Warrant remain unserved within 6 months from today, the case will be archived,” the order concludes.

Aside from this, the Comelec Prosecutors were also ordered to comment within 10 days regarding the motion for reconsideration on the order denying the motion for voluntary inhibition filed by the defense counsels.


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