MANILA, June 6 (Mabuhay) — Government prosecutors on Wednesday filed a motion before the Sandiganbayan Second Division to suspend former Cebu Governor and incoming congresswoman for Cebu’s third legislative district Gwen Garcia in connection with graft and malversation cases pending against her before the graft court.
Prosecution Bureau III acting director Manuel Soriano stressed that the suspension of a public official charged in court with a graft offense is mandatory under Section 13 of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Aforesaid provision is unequivocal and mandatory as held [by the Supreme Court] in many cases,” he said.
Garcia was indicted on two counts of graft and one of malversation in connection with the purchase for P98.93 million of a property known as the Balili estate in 2008.
She and her co-defendants were accused of conspiracy in binding the provincial government to a “grossly disadvantageous” transaction, causing it undue injury and unlawfully diverting P49,849,200 from Cebu’s Social Services fund allocations to partly pay for the acquisition.
Garcia’s defense team had insisted that the transaction was valid, as the 10 lots comprising the estate were properly registered and covered with existing torrens certificates of title.
According to prosecutors, 19.67 hectares of the 24.92-ha. property were submerged under water, and that public officials approved the purchase without a physical survey of the land.
Named co-defendants were Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Juan Bolo, Provincial Budget Officer Emme T. Gingoyon, Provincial Appraisal Committee chairman and Provincial Assessor Anthony D. Sususco, Provincial Treasurer Roy G. Salubre and OIC Provincial Engineer Eulogio B. Pelayre, and private defendants Romeo and Amparo Balili.
Garcia pleaded “not guilty” to the charges during her March 22 arraignment.
In December last year, then-Governor Garcia was ordered suspended by the Office of the President for six months due to an administrative case against her filed in 2010 by the late Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr. (MNS)