MANILA, Philippines?Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio have apologized to the Sandiganbayan for putting it in a bad light in connection with the controversial plea bargain between state prosecutors and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
The two men faced reporters on Friday in keeping with their agreement with the Sandiganbayan to issue an apology over their erroneous claim that the antigraft court had denied the demurrer to evidence filed by Garcia.
In a letter to President Benigno Aquino III last December, the two men expressed their opposition to the plea bargain. They also said a demurrer to evidence had been submitted and that the court had denied it.
The Office of the Ombudsman has asked the court to hold Villa-Ignacio and Marcelo in contempt, saying no demurrer to evidence was filed in court.
In his apology, Marcelo said he and Villa-Ignacio had no time to check the records to see if the demurrer to evidence was indeed filed. He said he had taken full responsibility for the error.
?In connection with our mistake regarding the demurrer to evidence, I categorically state that the Sandiganbayan was never criticized in our letter, as it was never our intention to do so,? Marcelo said.
?Again, I sincerely apologize if the Sandiganbayan (Special Second Division) and any of its members were put in a bad light,? he said.
Marcelo said the apology should not weaken or influence the ongoing impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez or the opposition to the plea bargain.
Garcia was charged with the nonbailable crime of plunder for allegedly amassing P303 million as military comptroller. He was freed on bail last December under the plea bargain, which Gutierrez had described as aboveboard.
The state prosecutors led by Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit had said the case against Garcia, which was filed during Marcelo?s time and approved by Villa-Ignacio, was riddled with deficiencies.