Tuesday July 17, 2018

Speaker defies Ombudsman order to dismiss Gwen Garcia

HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he will not implement the Ombudsman's order to dismiss House Deputy Speaker and Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia.

"My appropriate action is not to implement the order. Why? Because there is nothing in the Constitution that allows me to do that," Alvarez said.

"In fact, it is not within the power of the Ombudsman to discipline, much more to remove, any member of the House of Representatives, so pag ginawa ko yan (if I do it), I will be violating the Constitution, since may nakalagay sa Constitution na kami lang yung may kapangyarihan to discipline or remove a member of the House of Representatives," he added.

(The Constitution says only the House has the power to discipline or remove a member of the House of Representatives.)

Alvarez said he sees no legal basis to implement the said order.

"Definitely, (there is no legal basis) kasi wala akong makita sa Constitution, kanina ko pa binabasa wala akong makitang provision na nagsasabi na pwedeng gawin yun (I could not find a provision in the Constitution that says the Ombudsman could suspend a member of the House)," he said.

The dismissal order will no longer be taken up at the plenary session, said Alvarez, contrary to what House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said earlier in the day.

In an phone interview on Monday, Alvarez said he will be violating the Constitution if he will implement the Ombudsman's order.

The Office of the Ombudsman ordered earlier Monday the dismissal of Garcia for grave misconduct over the signing of a P24.4-million contract in April 2012 for the supply of backfill material for the Balili property in the City of Naga in Cebu, while she was governor. The acquisition of the Balili property was also deemed anomalous, considering that the bulk of the land is underwater.

Read: Ombudsman dismisses Gwen Garcia

The Ombudsman directed that a copy of the said decision be furnished Alvarez for appropriate action.

Garcia, for her part, said she believed the dismissal order is linked to her active participation in the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (SunStar Philippines)