SC affirms hold departure orders vs Gwen Garcia
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court Second Division affirmed the decision of the Sandiganbayan barring Cebu Representative Gwendolyn Garcia from leaving the country.
Garcia is subject of three hold departure orders (HDO) issued by the Sandiganbayan.
She is facing two counts of graft and one count of illegal use of public funds for the alleged anomalous purchase of a 24.7-hectare Balili property worth P98.9 million while she was still Cebu governor.
She went to the Supreme Court after the Sandiganbayan denied her motion for reconsideration.
She said the HDOs against her were issued prematurely.
Garcia added that she was also not able to exhaust her legal remedies even before the final determination of probable cause against her.
But the high court said Garcia’s petition lacks merit.
The High Court said from the filing of the case, whether it would be dismissed or continue with the proceedings is upon the court’s discretion.
“Pursuant to said authority, the court takes full authority over the case, including the manner of the conduct of litigation and resort to processes that will ensure the preservation of its jurisdiction. Thus, It may issue warrants of arrests, HDOs and other processes that it deems warranted under the circumstances,” the high court said.
“In this case, the Sandiganbayan acted within its jurisdiction when it issued the HDOs against the petitioner,” read the high court’s ruling.
It pointed out that there was no denial of due process since Garcia can file a motion for reconsideration.
The proceedings before the Sandiganbayan as well as her appeal before the Ombudsman can proceed concurrently, says the high court. /gsg/ac
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