MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday ruled that Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and five other provincial officials of Cebu are guilty of grave misconduct in connection with the questionable purchase of the Balili property in Naga in 2008.
Aside from Garcia, also guilty of grave misconduct include Juan Bolo, member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cebu; Anthony Sususco, Roy Salubro and Eulogio Pelayre, all members of the Provincial Appraisal Committee as well as Emme Gingoyon, provincial budget officer.
“Consequently, this Office finds Garcia and Bolo guilty of grave misconduct,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in her 26-page resolution.
Except from Garcia and Bolo, the other co-accused were meted the penalty of dismissal from service together with its accessory penalties. Meanwhile, the administrative liability of Garcia and Bolo “has been mooted by their reelection in the 2010 National and Local Elections,” the resolution further stated.
But the Ombudsman said the findings of grave misconduct against Garcia, although administrative in nature, will be used by the special prosecutors to boost the graft case against Garcia which is currently pending before the Sandiganbayan second division.
Under the Ombudsman Act, the Office of the Ombudsman is mandated to act on complaints against any officers or employees of the government and enforce their administrative civil and criminal liability in every case where the evidence warrants…”
Garcia is facing two counts of graft and one 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, saying 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 in which she was meted six months suspension prompting her to stay inside the Cebu Provincial Capitol and sought help before the Court of Appeals.