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Speaker won’t implement dismissal order vs Garcia as ‘decision came late’

/ 05:54 PM February 12, 2018
Gwendolyn Garcia

Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez refuses to implement the order from the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia because of a questionable P98.9 million purchase of an underwater property for a housing project in 2008.

“My appropriate action is not to implement the order,” Alvarez said in a phone interview on Monday. “Why? Because there is nothing in the Constitution that allows me to do that.”

Alvarez said that it was not within the power of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morale to discipline any member of the House of Representatives.

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The Ombdusman’s decision, however, was based on a graft case it filed against Garcia when she was still the governor of Cebu province.

“So kapag ginawa ko yan, I will be violating the Constitution, since may nakalagay sa Constitution na kami lang ‘yung may kapangyarihan to discipline or remove a member of the House of Representatives,” he said.

Alvarez said the Ombudsman’s order has no legal basis, as it was issued belatedly, when Garcia had already been elected a third district representative of Cebu.

“Yang dismissal order na ’yan, ang treatment ko diyan iyong dismissal niya as governor, not as congressman… Late ang decision. Dapat noon pa nilabas ’yan noong sya ay isang gobernador pa lang,” he said.

The House leadership would not take the order up in plenary because it has no legal basis, Alvarez maintained.

Earlier Monday, Morales ordered Garcia’s dismissal over the latter’s allegedly anomalous P98.9 million lot purchase for a housing project in Cebu when she was the governor. The property, however, turned out to be largely underwater.

The Office of the Ombudsman also directed Alvarez implement the decision. It, however, revised its statement, saying that it ordered that a copy of the decision be furnished to the House speaker for appropriate action.

Garcia was dismissed for grave misconduct after the Ombudsman found she had no authority from the Sanguniang Panlalawigan (SP) to enter into contracts with ABF construction firm.

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In June 2008, Garcia purchased the controversial Balili property, a 249,246 square meter lot in Tinaan, Naga, Cebu, for P98,926,800 in public funds for a housing project.

Local authorities later discovered that 196,696 square meters of the property were underwater and part of a mangrove area. /atm

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