MANILA, Philippines–The Sandiganbayan Second Division on Wednesday dismissed the bid of Cebu City Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to lift the three hold departure orders issued against her in connection with a graft case regarding the questionable purchase of the Balili property in Naga worth P98. million.
In its ruling, the anti-graft court’s second division dismissed the argument raised by Garcia that there is no active case against her since the court itself ordered the Ombudsman to resolve her motion for reconsideration.
“An HDO is but an exercise of a court’s inherent power to preserve and to maintain the effectiveness of its jurisdiction over the person of the accused…Such action of the court did not oust it of jurisdiction over the cases and over the accused,” the anti-graft court said.
Garcia is facing 2 counts of graft and 1 count of illegal use of public funds for the Cebu provincial government’s purchase of 24.7 hectares of beachfront property now being developed as a coal ash waste landfill. The purchase price was P98.9 million. Garcia denied that there was anything anomalous in the land purchase and said she was “not aware” the property was under water because she relied on the report of the Provincial Appraisal Committee, which omitted a technical report that described the coastal property as having almost 20 hectares of the 24.7 hectares under water.
The same case is subject of an administrative case where she was meted 6 months suspension prompting her to stay inside the Cebu Provincial Capitol and sought help before the Court of Appeals.