Malacañang downplays general's move to question arrest-A A +A
Saturday, September 17, 2011
PLUNDER suspect retired Major General Carlos Garcia is welcome to question his arrest before the courts as Malacañang expressed confidence that its case will hold water.
“The President merely affirmed the decision of the court martial (six years ago). We are confident that it will stand scrutiny,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told state-run dzRB radio on Saturday.
Garcia, who is accused of amassing over P300 million during his term as comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), is currently detained at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
He was slapped with a two-year sentence after a military court in December 2005 found him guilty of violating the Articles of War 96 (conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).
The 64-year-old Garcia was found guilty of misdeclaring of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth for 2002 and 2003, and for securing a US greencard (immigrant status) while still in the active military service.
The five-year-old decision was only enforced by President Benigno Aquino III last September 9 after then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo refused to make a move on the matter.
Garcia, who retired from the military in 2004, entered a plea bargain agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman last year, which allowed him to go scot-free since December.
Under the controversial deal, Garcia agreed to return P135 million to the national treasury in exchange for pleading guilty to lesser offenses of money laundering and direct bribery.
Special prosecutors attached to the Ombudsman justified the plea bargain, saying they have no sufficient evidence that would link Garcia to various bribes offered by AFP contractors and suppliers.
The plea bargain is being contested by recently-appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)