Court recalls Garcia’s arrest order-A A +A
Saturday, March 23, 2013
MANILA (Updated) - A warrant for the arrest of suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia was lifted Friday and she entered a plea of not guilty before the Sandiganbayan, where she faces charges of graft and malversation of public funds.
Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos of the Second Division lifted the arrest order and restored Garcia’s bail after granting the governor’s appeal.
Garcia said she had no intention of “disrespecting the court” when she opted to attend a speaking engagement at a graduation ceremony and the blessing of a congressional headquarters in Argao, Cebu.
Diaz-Baldos had issued an arrest warrant and confiscated the P90,000 bail after the governor missed the original schedule of the arraignment last Thursday.
Garcia’s charges are in connection with the purchase of the Balili resort property in 2008.
The hearing Friday lasted for 30 minutes.
Governor Garcia, together with her lawyer and daughter Christina Frasco, appeared calm during the entire proceedings.
In an interview with reporters after the hearing, Garcia explained why she was not able to attend last Thursday’s hearing. She said they had filed a motion to defer the arraignment, and when she got the notice that the motion was denied, it was too late.
“I did not intend to disrespect the court,” she said.
Asked how the legal battle has affected her, she said she already prepared herself for the struggles that lie ahead.
“It’s part of the hazards of the job,” she added.
Her lawyer, Tranquil Salvador III, had said they asked for the deferment of the arraignment, but the denial of the request came too late last March 19. The governor chose to honor prior commitments.
Also on Friday and still in connection with the Balili property’s purchase, the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) implemented the dismissal of Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre.
This was a penalty for grave misconduct, a case filed against him and five others over the purchase. The Capitol had paid P98 million for the property in 2008, portions of which later turned out to be underwater.
In a joint decision of the Office of the Ombudsman dated January 9, 2013, Governor Garcia, Provincial Assessor Anthony Sususco, Engineer Eulogio Pelayre, Provincial Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon, former Provincial Board Member Juan Bolo and Salubre were found guilty of grave misconduct.
Salubre received the memorandum from BLGF officer-in-charge Regional Director Carmelane Tugas.
Assistant Provincial Treasurer Emmanuel Guial will sit as acting provincial treasurer.
Acting Governor Agnes Magpale was also informed by the BLGF about the implementation of the dismissal order.
Salubre told Sun.Star Cebu he will file a petition for a temporary restraining order before the Court of Appeals on Monday.
“Maybe there was negligence pero grabe ra ang penalty (the penalty is too heavy),” Salubre said.
Governor Garcia was spared from dismissal because of the Aguinaldo doctrine, which absolves reelected officials of administrative cases filed in their previous term.
The Department of Interior and Local Government is supposed to implement the dismissal of Gingoyon and Pelayre.
The penalty is considered moot in Sususco’s case, since he retired last March 31, 2012. (Virgil Lopez/RSA and FMG of Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 23, 2013.