WHAT WENT BEFORE: Graft case vs Gwendolyn Garcia
In July 2012, the Office of the Ombudsman charged at the Sandiganbayan then Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia with two counts of graft and one count of illegal use of public funds for the purchase of a land for a housing project, which turned out to be mostly under water.
In May 2013, the Ombudsman also questioned a project to fill the land with earth, using funds from parts of the province’s annual budget from 2010-2012 that had been earmarked for airport, seaport “and other economic enterprise site plan.” Garcia had approved in 2008 the purchase of the 24.9-hectare property located in Naga City for P98.9 million.
It turned out that at least 19 hectares of the property was under water, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
According to the Ombudsman, Garcia signed the deal despite the province having no funds earmarked for it.
The Ombudsman said Garcia diverted at least P50 million in government funds intended for site development and a housing program to pay for part of the estate’s price.
The Cebu government, it said, “can no longer carry out its plan of site development and housing program because … 196,696 square meters of 249,246 sq m were under water.” —Inquirer Research
SOURCE: INQUIRER ARCHIVES
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