Gwen’s Balili cases not covered by election ban
Suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia isn’t exempted from the penalties cited in the charges levied against her in relation to the P98.9 million purchase of the Balili property in barangay Tina-an, Naga City.
Provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the election ban on the sanctions of officials and employees does not cover Garcia.
“The case of suspended Governor Garcia stems from her violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which is not covered by the election ban. The exemption is on violations not cited in the election laws,” Castillano said.
Castillano said Garcia’s case is both administrative and criminal in nature.
The Ombudsman recently found Garcia and five other provincial officials guilty of grave misconduct in relation to the 2008 Balili property purchase (see page 1).
Garcia is facing two counts of graft and one count of technical malversation or illegal use of public funds.
Deputy Ombudsman-Visayas Pelagio Apostol said a 90-day preventive suspension awaits Garcia and seven others impleaded in the case.
About P98.9 million was allocated to purchase the Balili property in 2008.
A government survey done the following year showed that the property was mostly underwater and or classified as public domain.
Also declared guilty were Juan Bolo, a former Provincial Board (PB) member; Anthony Sususco, Roy Salubre, and Eulogio Pelayre, all members of the Provincial Appraisal Committee; and Emme Gingoyon, Provincial Budget Officer.
But Garcia’s administrative liability was rendered moot by her re-election in 2010. The Ombudsman said the purchase was tainted with irregularities as the Capitol had no appropriated funds to develop property for investors.
It said 50 percent of the P98.9 million payment came from the P50 million budget of the province earmarked for Site Development and Housing Program under Social Services.”
“The use of funds for a purpose other than the specific purpose for which the fund was appropriated is illegal per se,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said.
Earlier, Morales denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Garcia for lack of merit. Correspondent Renan Alangilan with an Inquirer report
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