Military allows officers to testify in Garcia case

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2011 09:27 AM | Updated as of Jan 24 2011 10:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Military officers who have knowledge of the alleged corrupt practices of former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia are free to testify in courts, the Armed Forces leadership said over the weekend.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta made the pronouncement after a Malacañang official urged officers to testify on the plunder case of Garcia, who reportedly amassed over P300 million while in active service.

“If anyone will come forward, we will gladly say our piece. Transparency is very important…We welcome the statement (of Malacanang) and with that in mind, officers who are wiling to shed light can make themselves available in  relation to that statement of Malacanang that any member of the Armed Forces can shed light,” said Mabanta.

Former Constabulary chief Ramon Montano earlier said junior officers are willing to testify against the activities of Garcia and his former superiors if a no-nonsense investigation is conducted.

Mabanta also said the military is willing to forward to authorities the documents in connection with the trial of Garcia before a military tribunal. The military court found Garcia guilty of violating the Articles of War in 2005 and sentenced him to a 2-year prison sentence with hard labor and dishonorable discharge from the service.

“Remember that the court martial hearing has been already concluded, there is a result already. The transcripts and documentation as regard court martial case versus general Garcia and can be made available if requested,” said Mabanta.

Earlier, Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez and former Constabulary chief Ramon Montano called for an investigation of 6 former AFP chiefs who were Garcia's superiors during his time as military comptroller.

The two said Garcia could not commit any crime without the consent of his commanders, referring to former AFP chiefs Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva, Roy Cimatu, Benjamin Defensor, Dionisio Santiago and Narciso Abaya.

The House of Representatives is set to conduct a separate investigation into the validity of the plea bargain agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman and Garcia.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House justice committee, said the investigation will start at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 25.

"The committee will investigate the validity of the plea bargain agreement and what remedial legislative measures are needed," Tupas said in a statement sent to ABS-CBN News.

The congressman said the committee will also look into the possible liabilities of people involved in the deal.

He said the committee may recommend appropriate penalties and sanctions if anomalies and irregularities were committed.

The Senate blue ribbon committee is also set to conduct its own inquiry on the plea bargain agreement.

Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III said he has invited former military chief Angelo Reyes to testify in the panel's inquiry.