Plunder case stays vs ex-AFP comptroller’s wife, 3 sons | Inquirer News
Not covered by 2010 plea bargain deal

Plunder case stays vs ex-AFP comptroller’s wife, 3 sons

/ 05:44 AM September 09, 2022
Retired major General Carlos P. Garcia. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Retired major General Carlos P. Garcia. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO…

MANILA, Philippines — The wife and three sons of retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, who is now serving time in prison, will still face plunder and money laundering cases while at large, as the Sandiganbayan denied the former military comptroller’s plea to drop the charges against his family and to have his own sentence reduced.

The antigraft tribunal’s Second Division, in a 13-page resolution issued on Sept. 7, noted that Garcia’s wife, Clarita, and their sons Ian Carl, Juan Paulo and Timothy Mark, who had not been arrested since the trial began, were not part of the plea bargain that allowed him to plead guilty to lesser offenses.


Garcia, who has been serving time at New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City since 2011, was convicted of direct bribery and facilitating money laundering in connection with the millions of pesos he amassed through the so-called pabaon system involving hefty sendoff gifts for retiring generals during the Arroyo administration.

He and his family members were accused of acquiring wealth of more than P303 million from various schemes, such as receiving “shopping money or gratitude money” in exchange for government contracts or projects.


Archived cases

In a plea bargaining agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman in 2010, Garcia confessed to the lesser charges instead of the original plunder and money laundering cases.

But according to the Sandiganbayan, the agreement did not cover members of his family, whose cases had been archived, to be revived upon their arrest or surrender.

“[Garcia’s] wife, Clarita, and children Ian Carl, Juan Paulo, et al., who are his coaccused, remain charged in both criminal cases,” according to the resolution written by Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr., who chairs the Second Division.

“They were not parties to the plea bargaining agreement. Nowhere in the plea bargaining agreement … is there any declaration that they are to be dropped as accused in the two criminal cases,” the Sandiganbayan pointed out.

Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Arthur Malabaguio concurred in the ruling.

The court noted that Garcia’s family members had not even been arraigned.

Garcia, who served as comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 2001 to 2004, was sentenced to a prison term of up to 14 years and ordered to pay a total of P407.8 million.


In his appeal dated July 22, Garcia asserted that the order to have his family members arrested was an “error of law or fact.” He cited the plea bargaining agreement in his motion and claimed that the Supreme Court itself found that the charges against him and his family were “defective.”

Garcia also asked the court to remove the fine imposed on him, to strike out the subsidiary imprisonment penalty, or the additional prison sentence should he be unable to pay the fine, and to reduce his prison sentence.

But the Sandiganbayan granted only one prayer—to remove the additional prison term in case of the convict’s insolvency. The court said it found basis to do so “after a careful study,” citing Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code, which bars the imposition of subsidiary imprisonment when the main penalty does not exceed the penalty of “prision correccional,” ranging from six months and one day to six years. The court dismissed Garcia’s other “unwarranted” assertions, saying there was no admission of any defect in the charges filed by the prosecution against him and his family.

Neither did the Supreme Court make any such admission, according to the court.

In December 2003, two of Garcia’s sons were detained at San Francisco International Airport in California for failing to declare the $100,000 in cash in their possession, prompting separate investigations by the AFP and the Ombudsman.

The investigation led to Garcia’s sacking as AFP comptroller and chief of plans and programs.

In October 2004, the Ombudsman found that Garcia, who earned a monthly income of P36,015, had not declared P143 million in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth for a number of years.

The Ombudsman ordered his suspension for six months and petitioned the Sandiganbayan for the forfeiture of his assets.

Garcia was confined to quarters and subjected to court martial.

Brief freedom

He was sent to jail in 2005 after he and his family were charged with plunder. After being detained for six years while on trial Garcia was ordered released by the Sandiganbayan following the plea bargain.

In 2011, after a brief taste of freedom, Garcia was back behind bars after then President Benigno Aquino III affirmed the 2005 decision of the court martial which found him guilty of wrongfully declaring his assets and for holding permanent residency in the United States.

The US government in 2012 also turned over millions of dollars seized from Garcia and his family, including the net proceeds from the sale of his Trump Tower condominium unit in New York, and funds from his two bank accounts in the same city.

Officials during Aquino’s term appealed the plea bargain but it was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

Sandigan: Former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia guilty of direct bribery

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