New Ombudsman steps into plea bargain mess


Posted at Aug 15 2011 08:14 PM | Updated as of Aug 16 2011 06:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Newly installed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is asking the Sandiganbayan to hold off any further action on the plea bargain that her predecessor forged with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

In a 4-page motion filed on Friday, she told the court she is now reviewing the trial records of the Garcias, including that of the comptroller’s wife Clarita and sons Ian Carlo, Juan Paulo and Timothy Mark.

“One of the challenging issues in the present case which commands her attention is the propriety or legality of the issue of the forging of the Plea Bargaining Agreement between the prosecution and the accused,” the Ombudsman said.

She asked for 15 days to ponder over the evidence and other relevant documents linked to the case.

Under the deal submitted to the anti-graft court last December 16, Garcia pleaded guilty to lesser offenses of direct bribery and violation of Section 4 (b) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Garcia would then be returning P135 million.

As a result, he was released on bail on December 18, 2010.

The Aquino government, through the Office of the Solicitor General, tried to stop the deal but failed after the Sandiganbayan approved it last May 19.

Motions for reconsideration have already been filed. This is now the subject of Morales’ plea.