Garcia, 5 others face grave misconduct raps-A A +A
Monday, February 4, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday found probable cause to indict suspended Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and five others for grave misconduct in connection with the purchase of the 24.9-hectare Balili beachfront property in Naga City, Cebu.
In a related development, the Ombudsman in a 21-page order also denied Garcia's motion for reconsideration on the graft and technical malversation charges still on the purchase of the Balili property for lack of merit.
On July 20, 2012, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales charged before the Sandiganbayan Governor Garcia with two counts of graft and technical malversation for the allegedly irregular purchase of the 24.9-hectare Balili property.
“Without doubt, the purchase of the Balili properties is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government …given that the substantial portion thereof is submerged in seawater and cannot be utilized for the province’s housing program,” the ruling stated.
Garcia in her motion for reconsideration on the technical malversation charges invoked the Arias Doctrine and asked the Ombudsman to overturn its resolution in indicting her with the graft charges.
On the grave misconduct charges, the Ombudsman also found probable cause to charge former Provincial Board Member Juan Bolo, Anthony Sususco, Roy Salubre, and Eulogio Pelayre all members of the Provincial Appraisal Committee and Provincial Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon with grave misconduct.
The case stemmed from three separate complaints filed by the Office of the Office of the Ombudsman – Visayas’ Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO-Visayas), Manuel Manuel and Crisologo Saavedra in connection with the irregular purchase by the Cebu Provincial Government of the Balili estate consisting of 11 parcels of land with a total area of 249,246 sq.m. for an aggregate amount of P99,698,400, of which P98,926,800 has already been paid.
In a 26-page joint decision signed on January 25, 2013, Morales stated that the administrative liability of Garcia and Bolo “has been mooted by their reelection in the 2010 national and local elections” while Sususco, Salubre, Pelayre and Gingoyon were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service, together with its accessory penalties.
The purchase was made possible through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by Garcia on behalf of the Province of Cebu, for the acquisition of the Balili Estate located in Tina-an, Naga, Cebu, at P400 per sq.m.
The decision stated that the transaction was tainted with irregularities as the Provincial Government at that time had no available funds specifically appropriated for the purpose of “providing a good opportunity for the Province of Cebu to develop and cater to the needs of interested investors.” It said 50% of the total payment made by the Provincial Government “actually came from the [P50M] budget of the province not specifically earmarked for that purpose but for site development and housing program under social services”.
It also noted that of the 11 parcels of land, “about 196,696 square meters of the total area of 249,246 square meters is submerged in seawater”, hence, it cannot be used for the intended purpose of developing an international seaport and attract investors nor even for site development or housing.
It added that, “the use of funds for a purpose other than the specific purpose for which the fund was appropriated is per se illegal.”
The administrative charges against Mariflor Vero, Michelle Languido, Roger Dumayac, and Pilar Yburan, all members of the Technical Working Group; and Provincial Board members Victor Maambong, Julian Daan, Wilfredo Caminero, Peter John Calderon, Joven Mondigo Jr., Teresita Celes, Rosemarie Durano, Wenceslao Gakit, Alfred Francis Ouano and Bea Mercede Calderon were dismissed.
Garcia is currently serving a six-months suspension in relation to the administrative complaint filed by the late vice governor Greg Sanchez before the Department of Interior and Local Government. (Kathrina Alvarez/PR/Sunnex)