Palace hopes new Ombudsman will 'act on' Garcia plea bargain

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2011 03:00 PM | Updated as of May 02 2011 11:46 PM

Malacañang is hoping that the next Ombudsman will “act on” the plea bargain agreement that the Office of the Ombudsman has entered into with former Armed Forces Comptroller Carlos Garcia.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda stopped short of directly asking the next Ombudsman to cancel the agreement, saying it recognizes the independence of the office.

But at the same time, Lacierda reiterated the Palace position that the agreement should be reversed and not approved by the Sandiganbayan.
“The new Ombudsman is supposed to be independent from us. As far as we are concerned, we hope that the new Ombudsman will act on the plea bargaining agreement. We hope that he or she would act on the plea bargaining agreement. You know the position of the Palace on that matter or the President’s preference on that matter. We feel that it was an unfair plea bargaining agreement and we believe that it should be reversed or not approved by the Sandiganbayan.
Meantime, the Palace said there are no specific names yet being considered for the post. The President has asked the Judicial Bar and Council (JBC) to begin the process of looking for Gutierrez’s replacement.
“The resignation was unexpected so we are now in the process only of looking for a possible replacement but right now as far as I know, there is no specific person that the President has in mind,” Lacierda said. Lacierda said no deadline has been given to the JBC.
The Palace has yet to come up with a position if the next Ombudsman will be given a full seven-year term. 

Lacierda said he is not aware if Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has submitted an opinion on the issue.
Asked if cases would be pursued against Gutierrez, Lacierda echoed the President’s answer last Friday: “He has to prioritize the case filed. There are other more important cases that should be filed, the cases that have more bearing, that have more significance. We know for a fact that Ombudsman Gutierrez was a stumbling block but she was not the perpetrator of all these other scams. So we are looking at other more important cases that we have to investigate and we have to prosecute.”