FORMER congressman Pablo “Pabling” Garcia yesterday said that he will push through with his petition for disbarment and disciplinary action against Gov. Hilario Davide III after the May 9 elections.
Garcia announced in a press conference that the petition against Davide and Cebu Provincial Legal Officer Orvi Ortega is now ready for filing with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and Supreme Court.
“This will teach them a lesson that they should not play with the rule of law especially if the interest of the people is at stake,” Garcia said.
The case is related to the complaints for technical malversation, falsification of public documents and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019) which Garcia filed with the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against Davide, Ortega and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale.
Garcia accused Davide, Magpale and Ortega of spending his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) without authority.
He said he was informed that of his P72 million Pdaf from 2013 and prior years, only P38 million was left as of Dec. 31, 2015. More was spent from January 2016 to the present.
Garcia’s Pdaf was deposited with the Cebu Provincial Government for his infrastructure and soft projects.
In 2012, he had already identified his projects like roads and food assistance for soft projects. All the supporting papers were prepared for implementation.
However, then governor Gwen Garcia was suspended and Magpale, as acting governor, refused to sign the checks.
Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad informed Magpale that Garcia has the authority to dispose of the funds for his projects and that Cebu Province is only a trustee of the funds.
When Davide became governor and the SC ruled that all unspent Pdaf must be returned to Congress, Garcia wrote a letter to Davide and Magpale to return the funds to Congress but they refused.
Instead, Davide and Magpale spent it for their projects in violation of the SC order and of DBM rules and regulations, he said.
When Davide and Magpale instructed the provincial treasurer and provincial accountant to release the money, they sought Ortega’s legal opinion.
However, Garcia said Ortega rendered an “illegal opinion” citing the SC order but cutting its legal contents in order to mispresent the SC and mislead the treasurer and accountant into following Davide’s illegal order.
Davide said he respects Garcia’s right to file a petition to disbar him.
“We will deal with it in the proper forum at the right time,” Davide said in a text message through Capitol information officer Ethel Natera.
For his part, Ortega said it’s premature to comment but he will answer it when there is an order for him to answer it.
“I rendered the opinion in my capacity as provincial legal officer,” Ortega said.