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GARCIA PLEA BARGAIN

SolGen seeks reversal of Sandigan ruling

/ 02:33 AM May 25, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Tuesday sought the reversal of the Sandiganbayan’s approval of the plea bargain on the plunder case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, saying that there was more than enough evidence to convict him.

The OSG also said the court was wrong in saying that the deal was the most advantageous for the people, adding that the deal seemed more like a compromise agreement for Garcia’s convenience.

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It also insisted that it has the legal personality to intervene in the plunder case on behalf of the Republic, and that the deal was void because it did not have the consent of the Republic or of the military.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division earlier ruled that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to secure Garcia’s conviction, and his case was bound to be dismissed. It said approving the deal would allow the government to recover some assets. Under the plea bargain, Garcia pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of direct bribery and facilitating money laundering, and agreed to return P135 million to the government. He was granted bail and is awaiting sentencing.

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In its motion, the OSG said the court has enough material to convict Garcia based on the written statements of his wife, Clarita, that her husband had received gratitude money from military suppliers.

It noted that the court already gave weight to Clarita’s statements when it cited them in its earlier ruling denying Garcia’s petition for bail.

“Thus, it is quite perplexing why the Honorable Court would suddenly make a complete turnaround and now declare that the written statements of Clarita are inadmissible as evidence and have no probative value at all,” it said.

The OSG also defended the testimony of then government auditor Heidi Mendoza about an irregular military transactions involving Garcia, particularly on a P50-million deposit coming from a P200 million check.

In approving Garcia’s deal with government prosecutors, the Sandiganbayan virtually allowed him to walk free, the OSG said. The penalty for direct bribery is four to eight years’ imprisonment, and he was already detained for six years. Hence, he may no longer serve a prison term, it added.

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TAGS: Conflicts (general), Graft and Corruption, military comptroller Carlos Garcia, Office of the Solicitor General, Plunder, Sandiganbayan
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