Guv hopes she’ll be in Rome for ‘San Pedro’-A A +A
Saturday, August 18, 2012
GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia hopes she can represent Cebu in Rome this October, despite a hold-departure order against her, when the Vatican declares the second Filipino saint.
She plans to attend the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod but will first have to get the court’s permission, after the Sandiganbayan issued a hold-departure order against her and seven others.
“We will file, of course, a motion for reconsideration on the hold departure order, considering that this (order) was issued prior to the motions that they (Garcia’s lawyers) have filed or the legal action that we have taken,” Garcia said.
The Sandiganbayan issued the hold-departure on July 24, four days after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed the cases before the Sandiganbayan.
Governor Garcia and seven others were charged before the anti-graft court over the allegedly irregular purchase, for P98.9 million, of the former Balili property in the City of Naga.
But Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said the hold-departure order remains in effect, even after the Sandiganbayan referred the case back to the ombudsman.
“They have to secure permission from the court (Sandiganbayan) if they want to travel abroad,” Apostol told Sun.Star Cebu in an interview.
Associate Justices Teresita Diaz-Baldos, Napoleon Inoturan and Oscar Herrera Jr. signed the hold-departure order.
In a separate one-page order dated Aug.3, the Sandiganbayan ordered to hold in abeyance the proceedings of the graft cases against Garcia.
That came after Tranquil Salvador, counsel for Garcia, filed a motion for reconsideration last July 25. The anti-graft court ordered the ombudsman to “take cognizance” of the motion “with dispatch.”
“We filed three separate motions for suspension of proceedings to cover each of the three cases. All three motions were heard and granted during the hearing on Aug. 3, 2012,” said the governor’s brother, Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu Province, 3rd district).
Interviewed separately, Capitol consultant Atty. Rory Jon Sepulveda said that the governor will respect the Sandiganbayan Second Division’s hold-departure orders.
Deputy Ombudsman Apostol said the hold-departure order is “in effect and valid”, whatever the outcome of the motion for reconsideration. It may be lifted only once the case is dismissed or the information is quashed by the court.
In case any of the respondents wants to go abroad, Apostol said, he or she has to be arraigned so that the court can proceed with the trial.
In the case of the Balili case respondents, Apostol said that since their arraignment was not scheduled yet, they may submit themselves to a “temporary provisional arraignment.”
After that, they can ask for permission from the Sandiganbayan to go abroad.
“I really, really hope that Cebu will be represented in the person of the governor when the canonization of Pedro Calungsod will be realized on Oct. 21,” Governor Garcia said.
“Let us pray to San Pedro Calungsod, he is our Cebuano saint. Well, I have always believed in the power of prayer,” the Senate aspirant added.
The governor is facing two counts of graft and a technical malversation charge over the purchase of the 24.9-hectare Balili beachfront property in 2008.
One charge each was also filed against former Provincial Board member Juan Bolo, retired Assessor Anthony Sususco, Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre, Provincial Engineer Eulogio Pelayre, Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon, and private citizens Amparo and Romeo Balili.
Meanwhile, Judge Raphael Yrastorza submitted for resolution the motion for reconsideration of the Balilis, relative to the denial of their demurrer to evidence.
Yrastorza, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14, tackled yesterday the pleading relative to the petition of the Province seeking to get back what it paid for parts of the land (196,696 sq. m.) that turned out to be underwater.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2012.