Suspended Cebu gov barred from leaving country

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2013 07:48 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2013 03:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division has denied the motion of suspended Cebu Provincial Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to lift the hold-departure order (HDO) the anti-graft court it issued against her in connection with 3 criminal charges she is facing.

Garcia's motion is "devoid of merit," according to the 8-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr. and promulgated January 2, 2013.

"There is nothing premature in, and no legal impediment whatsoever to, the issuance of HDO's in these cases by the Court following a valid judicial determination of probable cause to hold movant for trial. The Court issued orders of arrest against movant. It would be illogical to order her arrest but freely allow her to depart for abroad," the decision said.

Associate Justices Teresita  Diaz-Baldos and Napoleon Inoturan and Teresita Diaz-Baldos agreed with the ruling.

Garcia is facing 2 counts of graft and a malversation case over the alleged anomalous purchase of a 24.92-hectare property in Tiga-an, Naga, Cebu.

She approved the P98,926,800 deal in 2008.

The charges were prompted by findings from the Ombudsman and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that showed 19.67 hectares of the area is under seawater.

Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Juan Bolo, provincial appraisal committee chairman and provincial assessor Anthony D. Sususco, provincial treasurer Roy Salubre, OIC provincial engineer Eulogio Pelayre, provincial budget officer Emme Gingoyon and private individuals Amparom and Romeo Balili are  Garcia's co-defendants in the first graft case.