New Ombudsman allowed to intervene in Garcia case

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2011 02:45 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2011 02:55 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan will hold in abeyance any further action on the plea bargain agreement between former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman.

The anti-graft court has given newly installed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales 30 days to study and make the necessary legal move in connection with the plea deal that was signed by her predecessor.

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 had said. She had asked for only 15 days.

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.

Carpio Morales was represented during the hearing today by Maria Hazeline Militante from the Office of the Special Prosecutor. – from a report by Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News