Tuesday July 17, 2018

Palace says Gwen Garcia dismissal 'tainted with politics'

MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, February 13, said the dismissal order against Deputy House Speaker and Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia was tainted with politics.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a statement, questioned the timing of the Ombudsman's order.

"It is also unfortunate that the decision of the Ombudsman was released at a time when such actions could be given political color," Roque said.

"While we leave the merits of the case to the Ombudsman, the release of the decision could have come at a more circumspect time," he added.

The anti-graft body, in a decision dated January 15, found Garcia guilty of grave misconduct when she was still governor of Cebu.

The Ombudsman's ruling stemmed from Garcia's decision to enter into the P24.4-million contract signed in April 2012 for the supply of backfill material for the Balili property in the City of Naga in Cebu. The acquisition of the Balili property was also deemed anomalous, considering that the bulk of the land is underwater.

Garcia, in a statement on Monday, February 12, downplayed the dismissal order against her as Ombudsman Conhita Carpio-Morales' "blatant attempt" to escape the impeachment complaint lodged against her before the House of Representatives.

She was referring to the impeachment case filed against Morales in December last year. The complaint, however, has yet to get an endorsement from an incumbent congressman.

"Considering that I have been vigorously and actively involved in the dispatch of impeachment complaints such as the one against Chief Justice Lourdes (Sereno), it is no surprise that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who now faces an impeachment complaint against her, would want to have the impeachment complaint by strong arming key members of Congress such as myself," Garcia said.

"My dismissal order from service at her hands makes her motivation far too obvious," she added.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, in an interview on Monday, said he would defy the Ombudsman's order.

Roque backed Alvarez's remark and said only the House of Representatives can remove Garcia from office.

"While we respect the findings of the Ombudsman based on the merits of the case, only Congress may suspend or remove its members based on the former's anti-graft and corruption rulings. She cannot arrogate this power of Congress," Roque said.

"Thus, only the House of Representatives, convened in plenary and by a two-thirds vote, can expel Deputy Speaker Garcia from its rolls," he added. (SunStar Philippines)