Marcelo: Garcia deal can still be quashed

By Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Dec 20 2010 12:43 PM | Updated as of Dec 20 2010 08:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo said there is still a chance to invalidate the plea deal that prosecutors entered into with former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, even if this has already been approved by the Sandiganbayan.

In an interview with radio dzMM, the lawyer said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) can always point out the loopholes in the plea deal.

“Under jurisprudence, the OSG is the tribune of the people. It needs to protect the interest of the nation even if it [the action] is against public officials,” he said.

Besides the executive department, the solicitor general also represents constitutional bodies such as the Ombudsman.

He cited the case when the Commission on Elections, another constitutional body, approved an automation contract to Photokina Marketing Corporation 10 years ago. The OSG filed an opposition after stakeholders cried out that the P6.62 billion bid was way higher than the P1.2 billion authorized budget.

 

Marcelo was responsible in the prosecution of Garcia after receiving a tip from his sources from the United States embassy.

Garcia’s wife and 3 sons are his co-accused in the plunder case. They were arrested in the United States on different dates between 2003 and 2009.

On Saturday, Garcia was able to walk out of jail after posting a P60,000 bail.

This could only mean that the Sandiganbayan had approved the deal, wherein Garcia agreed to return part of the P303.27 million he supposedly stole in exchange for the lesser charges of direct bribery and money laundering.

The crime of plunder is non-bailable.

“Ang ipinagtataka ko, bakit siya pinag-post ng bail e pinag-plead na siya ng guilty. Guilty na e. Meron pa siyang ise-serve na sentence,” Marcelo noted.

This is where the OSG should intervene “and point out the defects of the [plea deal] to enlighten the [Sandiganbayan] justices and reconsider their decision,” he said.

He also dismissed the “claims” of prosecutors that they did not have enough evidence to pin down Garcia and thus cited the need for a plea bargain agreement.

The prosecutors also said this is already a practical solution considering the long time it takes a court to finish a case.

Rule 116, Section 2 of the Rules of Court provides that the accused may only plea to a lesser offense before or after an arraignment.

“Garcia even filed a demurrer to evidence that the court dismissed,” he said. This is a pleading that can be used after the prosecution rests its case. The court can dismiss an action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.

“He also moved to file a petition for bail before, which was also denied. This [and the denial of the demurrer to evidence] means that the evidence is enough to convict him beyond reasonable doubt,” Marcelo explained.