Garcia: Dismissal order ‘blatant attempt’ to stop Morales impeachment
CEBU CITY — House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday said the order of the Office of the Ombudsman for her dismissal from the service was a “blatant attempt” to stop the looming impeachment of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
In a statement, Garcia said the timing of the decision was suspicious since Morales was also facing an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives.
The decision, she added, amounted to “a blatant attempt to strong arm me into helping her escape impeachment” at the House.
“Considering that I have been vigorously and actively involved in the dispatch of impeachment complaints such as the one against Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, it is no surprise that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who now faces an impeachment complaint against her, would want to have the impeachment complaint dismissed by strong arming key members of Congress such as myself,” she said.
“My dismissal from service at her hands makes her motivation far too obvious,” she added.
Earlier on Monday, Morales ordered the dismissal of Garcia over her questionable purchase of a P98.9-million Balili property when she was the governor of Cebu in 2008.
In June 2008, Garcia purchased the Balili property – a 249,246-square meter lot located in Barangay Tinaan, Naga City in Cebu for P98,926,800.
Local authorities, however, later discovered that 196,696 square meters of the property werillegale underwater and part of a mangrove area.
The Office of the Ombudsman directed Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to implement the dismissal order, which carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
Meted with three-month suspension was Cebu provincial treasurer Emmanuel Guial who was the provincial accountant during the purchase.
Guial was found guilty of simple misconduct “for certifying disbursement vouchers that the supporting documents are complete when in fact they lacked the required authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for respondent Garcia to enter into contract.”
Guial told reporters that he was willing to comply with the orders of the Ombudsman.
“As of now, I haven’t received a copy of the decision yet,” Guial said. “But when I do, I’ll be seeking help from a legal counsel. In the meantime, I’m alright on subjecting to the Ombudsman’s orders.”
Garcia, for her part, said she had not been given a copy of the resolution and was not given the opportunity to file a reconsideration.
In a statement, she pointed out that the complaint was filed by Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III at the height of the 2013 elections in an attempt to have her suspended and influence the outcome of the elections.
“I certainly hope that the Ombudsman will act on my complaint regarding Davide’s criminal neglect of the CICC [Cebu International Convention Center] with the same vigor and haste, and that the public would see through the Ombudsman’s blatant abuse of power to shield herself from being impeached and held accountable for her own questionable actions,” she said.
Garcia filed a complaint against Davide in 2015 for allowing the CICC to remain in a dilapidated state.
The CICC was built in 2006 when Garcia was governor. It was used as venue for the hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Cebu.
Incidentally, Garcia is also facing graft charges for the anomalous procurement of the CICC which was built at P840 million. /atm
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