Garcia on Ombuds ruling: It's political harassment-A A +A
Monday, February 4, 2013
CEBU (Updated) -- Governor Gwen Garcia said Monday that the Ombudsman, in finding probable cause to charge her and five others with grave misconduct in connection with the purchase of the 24.9-hectare Balili property in City of Naga, Cebu, is contradicting itself in a ruling it rendered earlier.
Garcia is also currently serving a six-month suspension issued by the Office of the President related to an administrative complaint filed by the late vice governor Greg Sanchez. She is contesting the "illegal" suspension before the Court of Appeals.
In the recent Ombudsman decision, Garcia said there is no legal sanction in the administrative case because the Ombudsman herself stated that her liability and that of former board member Juan Bolo "has been mooted by their reelection in the 2010 National and Local Elections.”
Garcia, who was interviewed over ANC-News, said the recent ruling "is nothing more but to add the political harassment I am now experiencing with the 'illegal suspension' order."
"This is a matter of good media copy," Garcia added.
The Office of the Ombudsman, in a 26-page joint decision signed on January 25, 2013, stated that the administrative liability of Garcia and Bolo “has been mooted by their reelection in the 2010 national and local elections” while Anthony Sususco, Roy Salubre, Eulogio Pelayre and Emme Gingoyon were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service, together with its accessory penalties.
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 square meters for an aggregate amount of P99,698,400, of which P98,926,800 has already been paid.
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 square meters.
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 percent of the total payment made by the Provincial Government “actually came from the [P50 million] 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.
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. (Sunnex)