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OSG insists Sandiganbayan should scrap Garcia plea bargain deal

By Zaldy Lenon

Balita News Service – Manila Bureau

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) maintained its position yesterday that the plea bargaining agreement (PBA) between prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman and former military comptroller Carlos F. Garcia is a contract that is very disadvantageous to the Philippine government which should be junked by the Sandiganbayan.

In a 78-page consolidated reply to the comments and oppositions filed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) and the accused to a motion for intervention which ultimately seeks to nullify the deal, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz insisted on the illegality of the controversial agreement.

The OSG reiterated its position that the offended party in the Garcia plunder case is the Republic of the Philippines whose consent “is absolutely necessary to the validity of the plea bargain agreement.”

Cadiz said the Sandiganbayan Second Division’s Resolution dated May 4, 2010 virtually approving the PBA “suffers from incipient fatal infirmities; hence, it is null and void and all the actions undertaken by the OSP and accused Garcia pursuant thereto have likewise no legal effect.”

The OSG was referring to how the deal, despite the anti-graft court’s explanation that it has yet to approve the same, has already allowed the surrender of Garcia’s alleged ill-gotten assets worth around P135.4 million only and how the anti-graft court has already allowed him to plead guilty to lesser offenses pursuant to the conditions set by the plea bargain.

The accused was originally charged with two separate cases of plunder for allegedly amassing some P303-million in wealth, through kickbacks from military contractors, and money laundering but was allowed to plead guilty to direct bribery and facilitating money laundering on December 16, 2010.

Cadiz said the PBA was entered into without the approval of the offended party and without the Sandiganbayan making an independent assessment that the evidence presented by the prosecution which the OSP believes to be weak or insufficient to secure the conviction of accused.

“The record of this case shows that the plea bargain agreement is actually a compromise for the benefit of accused Garcia and against the interest of the republic and its people.”

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