Gwen Garcia pleads not guilty to graft cases

By Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2013 04:34 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2013 12:34 AM

MANILA -- Suspended Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia pleaded not guilty to three counts of graft and malversation at the Sandiganbayan's second division on Friday.

Garcia flew in from Cebu today to attend the arraignment which was originally scheduled the day before.

Garcia was ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan for failing to attend her earlier arraignment allegedly because of prior commitments.

But Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos granted the defense's motion for reconsideration to lift the arrest warrant since Garcia already presented herself today.

Baldos also resinstated Garcia's bail bond.

Garcia said: "Ang alam ko kasi, nagfile na kami ng motion for deferment of arraignment, 'yung denial natanggap namin Wednesday lang. Nagkataon na marami na akong commitments."

Garcia is facing three counts of graft and malversation in connection with the 2008 purchase of the Balili Estate in Tinaan, Naga City for P98.9 million.

The Office of the Ombudsman said a large portion of the land was submerged in seawater, making it unsuitable for the planned infrastructure project of the provincial government in the area.

"I already prepared myself for the struggles, it's part of the job. But I fear more for my family, because I'm sure the case has affected them," Garcia said.

The pre-trial for the case has been set on May 29 and 30.