Alleged ghost purchase-A A +A
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
MANY believed that when suspended Gov. Gwen Garcia left Capitol last week to attend an inauguration in the town of Oslob, she never intended to return to her office. The padlocking of the governor’s office was therefore superfluous.
Gwen should be grateful to Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale for doing her a favor. It provided Gwen a good alibi for media consumption. “Mora ko’g bao nga ilang giitsa sa tubig,” Gwen quipped to reporters while in Oslob.
The truth is Gwen’s self-imposed lock-in at the governor’s office for more than a month since her suspension order was served on Dec. 19, 2012 did not do any good to her candidacy and those of the candidates of One Cebu party.
Under the present political climate, Gwen should expect more cases to rain on her.
Malacañang’s suspension order merely overtook her other cases pending before the Office of the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan.
In fact, the Ombudsman found the suspended governor and five other Capitol officials guilty of grave misconduct in the questionable purchase of the Balili property.
Ordered dismissed were members of the provincial appraisal committee (Provincial Assessor Anthony Sususco, Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre and Provincial Engr. Eulogio Pelayre ) together with provincial budget officer Emie Gingoyon.
Under the Aguinaldo Doctrine, however, the suspended governor could not be slapped with the administrative penalty of dismissal because she was reelected in 2010. But she would still face criminal prosecution on the irregular purchase of the Balili property.
Once the criminal case is filed with the Sandiganbayan against Gwen and others on the highly irregular purchase of the Balili property, the 90-day preventive suspension awaits her and her co-accused.
Gwen’s getting out of the governor’s office was timely. Otherwise, the 90-day preventive suspension order could be implemented on her at Capitol. She preempted what could have been another coup de grace on her.
Now I understand why majority of the Provincial Board (PB) members left One Cebu party and jumped to the Liberal Party (LP). They must have smelled big trouble ahead for Governor Gwen, who will be facing several graft cases.
At the time the Balili property was purchased, all the PB members except Arleigh Sitoy were party mates of the suspended governor and all her acts were supported by Board resolutions or appropriation ordinances.
The suspended governor had her own reasons why she did not want to leave Capitol despite the advice of Archbishop Jose Palma, who visited her twice. Her directive to department heads not to obey orders from Magpale was futile.
Recently, the team that Acting Governor Magpale created to check on Capitol’s payables to suppliers unearthed what could be ghost purchase of toilet bowls worth more than P7 million.
The Magpale Team is facing a blank wall since it could not locate these toilet bowls.
The supplier, believe it or not, is a buddy of the governor’s son and one of those who attacked a police officer during the standoff at the Capitol.
Gwen may call the upcoming graft cases against her political persecution but Malacañang can also argue that it is part of its campaign on “Matuwid na Daan.” The charges are not made up, I was told, because these are based on Capitol records.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 07, 2013.