DEPUTY House Speaker and Cebu Representative Gwendolyn Garcia on Wednesday, February 14, insisted that the Ombudsman could not order her dismissal because it does not have the power to discipline members of Congress.
Garcia, during the plenary session Wednesday, took a swipe at Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, who implied that the Ombudsman's order should be enforced.
In her privilege speech, Garcia agreed with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that the House of Representatives has the sole disciplinary authority over its members.
Alvarez said Monday that he would not implement the dismissal order against Garcia.
Garcia cited Article VI Section 16 paragraph 3 of the 1987 Constitution which states that "each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, suspend or expel a Member. A penalty of suspension, when imposed, shall not exceed sixty days."
"What the Honorable Speaker meant, in case his meaning was not clear to some, is that the only instance where the removal of any member of this House or Representatives is allowed under the Constitution is by the decision of two-thirds of this House of Representatives," Garcia said.
She stressed: "Not an order of the Ombudsman but by two-thirds votes of all the members of the independent House of Representatives."
The Ombudsman law, or Republic Act 6770, meanwhile, also prohibits any disciplinary action on members of Congress, Garcia added.
She cited Section 12 of the law, which states that the Ombudsman shall have disciplinary authority over all elective and appointive officals of the government and its instrumentalities "except over officials who may be removed only by impeachment or over members of Congress or the Judiciary."
"This is how the Eighth Congress- of which I believe Representative Lagman was a member - defined the disciplinary authority of the Ombudsman," Garcia said.
Lagman, who was present during the plenary session, manifested that he will speak concerning the issue some other time as Garcia wished not to entertain interpellation.
Earlier, he said the Ombudsman law states that its order should be immediately executory even pending appeal of its decision.
"Ombudsman's law is clear with respect to the implementation of the decisions of the Ombudsman even pending motion for reconsideration," Lagman said at a press conference of the Magnificent 7 bloc on Tuesday.
The Ombudsman ordered Garcia's dismissal for grave misconduct over the anomalous contract she signed in 2012 for the supply of backfill material for the Balili property in the City of Naga in Cebu, when she was governor of the province.
According to the Ombudsman, Garcia had no authority from the Sanguniang Panlalawigan (SP) when she entered into contracts with ABF Construction. (SunStar Philippines)