MANILA - The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday lambasted House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia for claiming that the Ombudsman's dismissal order against her was spurred by her role in the magistrate's impeachment proceedings.
The Office of the Ombudsman ordered Garcia's dismissal over the allegedly anomalous backfilling of an estate when she was still governor of Cebu. The congresswoman, however, said the office "singled her out" for taking an active part in Sereno's impeachment.
Sereno's spokesperson, lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, said Garcia's claim is "bereft of truth and wisdom."
"To set the record straight, the Chief Justice has nothing to do with the Ombudsman’s decision. Rep. Garcia was sacked from office for her questionable purchase of a P98.9-million underwater property when she was governor of Cebu without the authority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan," he said in a statement.
"She misused public funds to buy a property submerged in the sea. These are the facts of the case and these were the bases of the Ombudsman’s decision," he added.
The Office of the Ombudsman, as an independent constitutional body, has its own processes and it makes decisions free from outside control or influence, said Lacanilao.
"It is unfortunate that Rep. Garcia is using the ongoing impeachment hearing as an excuse, albeit shallow, for her dismissal from government service and perpetual disqualification from public office rather than check the laws of the land on graft and corruption," he said.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had said he will not implement the suspension against Garcia as he has no such power under the Constitution.
Under the Constitution, any member of the House of Representative may only be expelled by a 2/3 vote of the chamber.
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