Gwen’s lawyers set to stop preventive suspension orderBy Ador Vincent Mayol
Cebu Daily News
Legal advisers of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia are preparing to head off a 60-day preventive suspension order for her.
Her brother Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s 34d third district said they are exhausting all possible remedies after graft charges were filed on July 19 in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the purchase of 24.7 hectares of land in the Balili estatei in Naga.
“Under the law, it (preventive suspension) is mandatory, assuming that the charges are valid. But the accused, in any case, still has available reliefs,” Pablo John told reporters yesterday in Naga City.
“If the charges are invalid, the suspension is not mandatory as well.”
He declined to explain more.
“You know, we will not telegraph our punches. Lets leave it to the lawyers,” he said.
Gwen’s brother, daughter Christina Codilla-Frasco, and father Rep. Pablo Garcia are all lawyers and expected to weigh in heavily in the governor’s defense.
The suspension order is supposed to be issued after arraignment, which is the stage when an accused enters a plea on the charges.
Garcia posted bail on Friday for temporary release on charges of two counts of graft and technical malversation of funds filed by the Office of the Ombudsman for the 2008 purchase of part of the Balili Beach Resort that turned out to be mostly underwater.
Pablo John said they are nonetheless consoled by the fact that the charges against the governor were filed in court.
“Several accusations have long been thrown at Governor Garcia. It is better that the issue is now in court instead of the media. Accusation is equal to proof. At least in court, we will be asked to present evidence to arrive at the truth,” he said.
A preventive suspension order is used to avoid the danger of having an accused public official affect the outcome of a pending case, which may happen through intimidating witnesses, destroying evidence or influencing parties in the case.
The mandatory nature of the suspension is stated in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019 under Sec. 13.
It says “Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property, whether as a simple or as a complex offfense… is pending in court, shall be suspended from office.”
For a local offical, the period will not exceed 60 days under the Local Government Code.