2 senators cheer SC’s TRO on Garcia plea deal

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Former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Two senators on Thursday commended the Supreme Court for stopping the implementation of the plea bargaining agreement (PBA) against retired Major General Carlos Garcia, one describing it a “correct signal” as far as the government’s fight against graft and corruption is concerned.

“I commend the Supreme Court for taking the first significant step in rectifying the grave irregularities committed by former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez,” Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon  committee, said in a statement.

Guingona said the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court against the PBA between Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman was an “affirmation” of the findings of the blue ribbon committee.

“As chairperson of the blue ribbon committee, I stand by our findings that a betrayal of public trust was committed when the plea bargain deal was entered into,” he said.

“The PBA has no evidentiary basis; there was lack of full restitution in favor of the government and there was lack of consent of the offended party,’ said the senator.

A PBA, Guingona said, was not for the convenience of the accused but “for the paramount public interest of justice.

“I trust that the PBA will ultimately be nullified, and I am confident that transparency, accountability and good governance will prevail,” he added.

Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice, also commended the high tribunal’s decision.

“I commend the SC for issuing the TRO. This sends the correct signal insofar as our battle against graft and corruption is concerned,” Escudero said in a text message.

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